GlassUp Takes a Turn on the Wearable Tech Runway
For those who are so tuned in to tech that they want a screen in front of them at all times, there is a new product in the works. GlassUp -- kind of like Google Glass but kind of not -- lets users see green text on a transparent background right in front of their eyes. It works with a smartphone, so there will have to be a certain amount of looking at that too -- buy hey, what's one more screen?
The GlassUp glasses will serve mainly as a display and will connect to mobile devices through Bluetooth. Models equipped with a camera or a prescription glasses option, or both, are also being planned.
GlassUp will release basic apps with its product but, like Google, will leave it up to independent devs to create the bulk of apps. The company is taking preorders now, and promises to deliver its products even if it does not reach its funding target.
However, it seems GlassUp has aroused the ire of Google. Its legal department sent the startup a letter in March, according to reports, asking it to withdraw its application to trademark the name "GlassUp" in Italy, where it is based, as well as to change both the company and product names because consumers might confuse them with Google Glass.
Google did not respond to our request to comment for this story.
More on GlassUp
Final product definition is scheduled for the end of July. A first, buggy, pre-series model should be available by the end of September. The final product is scheduled for launch in February.
GlassUps will be available in white and red, or black and green; they will project information in green on a tinted lens close to the center of vision.
They will weigh about 65 gm, and have an accelerometer, a compass, an ambient light sensor, and a precision altimeter. Connectivity will be through Bluetooth LE. The glasses will run Android, iOS and Windows 7.
The optical system will consist of a display and a set of lenses and mirrors, and offer a resolution of 3,320 x 240. The glasses will have a rechargeable battery and a touchpad on one of the temple arms.
GlassUp tells a good story but the information it has put out raises several questions.
For one thing, why is it seeking crowdfunding if it has investors, as it claims?
Price inconsistencies in the preorder offers are also questionable.
Purchasers can get one GlassUp from the first production batch for either $199 or $299, with an estimated delivery date in February 2014.
Purchasers who need eyeglasses can shell out $299 for an Early Bird Prescriptive or they can cough up $399 for a Prescription GlassUp. The estimated delivery date is March 2014 in both cases.
Bulk orders are $1,500 for 10 units in an Early Bird order, or $2,500 for 10. In both cases the units will be from the first production batch and will be available in February.
There is no explanation of the anomalies on GlassUp's website.
A GlassUp spokesperson was not immediately available to provide further details.
Will Wearable Tech Sell?
The bigger question here is whether there is a demand for wearable technology, a category that includes Google Glass, GlassUp and smartwatches.
Apple is working on a watch, as is Google, and Microsoft is now reported to be testing its own smartwatch.
More than 1 million smartwatches will ship this year, ABI Research has projected. More than 5 million will ship in 2014, according to Canalys. By 2018, the wearable technology market will hit nearly $6 billion, based on Transparency Market Research estimates.
A wearable technologies conference will be held in San Francisco next week.
"The demand for head-up mobility solutions is undeniable," Ryan Martin, an associate analyst at the Yankee Group, told the E-Commerce Times. "GlassUp will likely see some serious traction if it can capture a part of the wearable devices market not addressed by Google Glass."
As for smartwatches, more than 1.7 billion smartphones will be in people's hands this year, according to Canalys.
"An attach rate wouldn't have to be really high for smartwatches to ship significant volumes," Daniel Matte, a Canalys analyst, told the E-Commerce Times.
However, Sony's smartwatch, which has been on the market for awhile, is not really gaining traction.
"To say that wearable tech is the next big thing in the consumer electronics market seems like a pretty big leap," Yankee Group's Martin commented.
Wearable technologies "are interesting but are not something people will stick with unless they're required to do so as part of a medical or physical regimen," Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told the E-Commerce Times.
"Is it necessary or an entertainment factor?" he wondered. "That's what the market will determine next."