Google Glass is a new device from Google that is expected to be widely available to customers during 2014. Although just a test device at the moment, the smart eyewear is already well-known in the online world as the next “must have” in terms of gizmos. From taking photos, videos and video calls to sending texts and calling your friends, while you stay connected to the internet at all times, these glasses seem to do mostly everything.
They also respond to someone’s voice, as well as touch and movements of the head – it’s never been easier to tell your glasses what to do for you! But they’re not just smart – with so many technology products becoming fashion statements nowadays, Google wants to make sure its glasses are also going to be wearable. With a wide variety of frames and colors suitable for anyone, Google Glass surely looks fashionable.
If the promise of an amazing journey of discovery seems appealing to you, there is more to discover about the glasses here. But these aren’t the only smart glasses available – although probably the most well-known by technology enthusiasts, Google Glass has a few competitors that we’ll speak of in this article.
Google Glass and its alternatives
SeeThru from Laster is the first smart eyewear that is already available to the public. These wireless augmented reality (AR) glasses offer information on the go, without disrupting your normal vision. Therefore, information about the surroundings will pop-up along the landscape you see right in front of you – data about the mountains you’re seeing, information about the buildings you’re looking at, etc.
Being equipped with Bluetooth, SeeThru also allows you to check your emails, take phone calls, read and send text messages, listen to music, access e-books or any other type of text while being outdoors.
Although a very smart eyewear that’s similar to a small computer, SeeThru lacks some of the features Google promises to bring. Some of the disadvantages are the fact that it doesn’t take pictures or videos, and it lacks the ability of responding to voice commands.
The next rival product that seems to offer something similar to the Google Glass promise is Vuzix M100. These glasses work just like a smartphone, having a camera, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, as well as microUSB and microSD slots.
You can take pictures and videos, connect to the internet and my connecting the glasses to a smartphone, you can also make phone calls. Once again, the voice command feature seems to be missing, and an important difference is that the eyepiece is not transparent, but fixed. This means you’re not taking advantage of an augmented reality, but actually see it separately, on a second screen. From this point of view, SeeThru seems to be smarter, as it does not interfere with your vision.
Ora-S Digital Eyewear
ORA-S comes from Optivent and is very similar to Vuzix, while also allowing a see-through experience. The device can be connected to a smartphone, as well as a tablet, transforming into a wearable computer. Listening to music, taking pictures and videos, accessing online information as well as documents from your phone or tablet, everything can easily be done hands-free.
Being designed to serve as sunglasses, Ora-S doesn’t have a great variety of designs and colors, as opposed to Google Glass. Also, the same as all previous glasses, the disadvantage that seems to be persistent is the lack of a voice command feature or any ability of responding to commands – be them voice, touch or movement.
Moving from transparent glasses and sunglasses to sky eyewear, the Oakley Airwave glasses are specially designed to serve skiers and snowboarders. While working in a similar way to the ones before, the device is primarily focused on offering information about the slopes, altitude, time, length of the last jump, position and so on.
If you’re exploring the slopes with your friends, Oakley doesn’t resume to just showing your position, but it also locates the rest of your crowd. In case the noise around disturbs you, the smart glasses allow you to change the tune.
The device also connects to your phone, but this is done through a wireless remote that you clip onto your glasses or wear on your wrist. This makes the user experience a little less comfortable compared to what previous options had to offer. Not to mention the absence of a voice command feature, which you probably got used to.
Oakley might seem interesting, but they’re not the only smart glasses for skiers. Zeal came with another solution: the Zeal Optics Transcend GPS Goggles specially designed for skiers and athletes. The GPS helps you locate yourself on Google Maps, while you’re taking advantage of the 4G signal telling you everything you need to know.
Wearing Zeal Optics is one sure way to know what you should avoid, where you might want to stop for a break or a hot drink and so on. A great way to stay safe and keep others on the slopes safe, too! Given its focus on safety and information, there’s no surprise the device has no camera or video camera incorporated and does not respond to various sensors, such as voice or movement.
Since we moved towards niche smart glasses, we shouldn’t forget to mention Oculus Rift – the gamer’s eyewear. The product is expected to be available for the public by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015 and promises immersive gaming to all the virtual reality fanatics.
Having two internal screens of 640×400 resolution each, the device creates a final 1200×800 image. Thanks to this, as well as its feature enabling the glasses to track motion and respond to your head movements, Oculus Rift generates a 3D environment. It’s true that the product is not in direct competition to the Google Glass, but a worthy mention nevertheless.
Sony HMZ-T3W Personal 3D Viewer
A similar device to Oculus Rift is the one from Sony that acts like a personal 3D viewer. Being mainly designed for movies and gaming, the 3D glasses can connect to any HDMI source, turning into your own home cinema.
The feeling of looking at a big cinema screen combine with the high quality of the sound make Sony HMZ-T3W a perfect asset for those who love 3D effects. On the other hand side, some of the disadvantages include the aspect of the device that is heavy and uncomfortable to wear.
While many manufacturers tend to focus on one niche only, Google Glass seems to be one of the few to promise a pair of smart glasses that can adapt to anyone and anything – no matter what activities you want to use them for, they have a feature to suit that.