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Wearable Tech

GlassUp schools Google Glass on smart specs style (hands-on)

This crowdfunded Google Glass competitor may not have all the chops that Google Glass shows off, but it's a cheaper, more eye-friendly alternative.

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LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to hip eyewear designs, Google and its Glass wearable should take a tip from GlassUp, the crowdfunded IndieGoGo project that was in the works two years before Google co-founder Sergey Brin parachuted from the San Francisco skies wearing the smart frames.

The smartframes, which GlassUp demoed at CES 2014, model a much more sporty style than Google's geeky frames.

Most notably, it features larger lenses and a design that appears more symmetrical by incorporating the head-up display and camera lens into the glasses, rather than poking out.

Display information is beamed into the center of the right lens, unlike Google Glass, whose explorer edition projects information into a lens above your right eye, a placement that caused me a low-level headache and eye strain over time. Unfortunately, the GlassUp prototype model I saw was kludged together, and the plastic lenses hazed up my vision the moment I slipped them on. That didn't help with the 320×240-pixel resolution.

Unfortunately, there's no camera in the basic frames, which are due to Indiegogo backers this summer for $500. Next winter's version is expected to contain a VGA camera and should cost $500.

GlassUp will features a touch pad with the usual controls (tap, double tap, long press, swipe vertically and horizontally.) There's Bluetooth LE (or low energy) to connect to your iPhone or Android smartphone to see notifications, directions, and much of the stuff you can see with Google Glass. There's an accelerometer, a compass, and an ambient light sensor as well.

GlassUp envisions its use in such scenarios as athletes looking at directions, movie-goers reading subtitles, nurses and doctors in hospital settings reading stats off the screen, and warehouse workers cataloging inventory.

Compared to the $1,500 Google Glass developer model, GlassUp is more stylish and much less expensive. However, Glass has the much stronger resolution (720p) and a 5-megapixel camera that can also record video.

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