Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wearable computing beyond Google Glass...

While Google Glass is receiving lots of attention at the moment, they're not the only ones in on the wearable computing gig.

Italian company GlassUp has just listed their own wearable computing project on a crowdfunding site in order to raise the $150 000 necessary to complete the project.

Maker, Gianluigi Tregnaghi claims it was already working on the GlassUp project two years ago, well before Google announced its own glass. There are differences between the two Augmented Reality glasses. GlassUp is considerably cheaper, at $US399 ($A432) compared to Google Glass' $US1500 ($A1625) price, and does not have as many features. It is described as a "receive only" device which means that unlike Google Glass, customers are not able to respond to email, text or take photos. The display screen is also directly in front of the eye rather than up to the side on Google's version.

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald and Mashable, the information in the smartphone is sent to the glasses via Bluetooth. The notifications are displayed on GlassUp's lenses, projected in front of the user. Similar to Google Glass, the notifications are based on which apps the user downloads. 

The company has already been receiving trademark attention from Google who, GlassUp claims, has requested they change the product name.

Meanwhile in Australia, Sydney-based company Explore Engage has been developing wearable computing. For the past two years, the company has devoted $2 million to creating prototype smart glasses. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the company is positioning its glasses as a challenger to Google's version. Explore Engage's chief technology officer, Paul Kouppas notes that certain things aren't possible on Google Glass because they are monocular and not directly augmenting your line of sight. Explore Engage however is augmenting both lenses directly in the user's field of view which means they can put content right in front of your vision.

Explore Engage's Augmented Reality Glasses. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald

The company is working up navigation, education, tourism, real-time translation, home entertainment, gaming, medical and sports-event glasses apps. The team wants to next work on apps for the glasses which include a CPR instructions overlay with voice prompts for what to do in an emergency, and, a cycling "heads up display" which provides route and safety information, navigation and communication between riders. In a departure from Google's mass market ambitions, Explore Engage says its niche product is, 
"more about particular use cases and bespoke design first, and mass marketing second...You could do a bit of a mashup between something like Second Life and a game like Doom, and allow them to co-exist in the real world."

Kouppas demonstrated the glasses on Cybershack:

So despite the attention currently being give to Glass, there are other contenders in the wearable computing game offering versions tailored to the contexts in which they see the possibilities for augmented reality most relevant. If you're keen on wearing AR glasses, it appears that once these models have been developed there will be increasing choice, making it easier to find a glass that suits you.

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