Google Glass is indisputably the most popular piece of wearable tech around, but its steep price and scarce availability make it quite unattractive. Those are exactly the aspects France-based eye-display technology company Optinvent counted on when developing the $300 ORA-X smart glasses.
The bad news is that ORA-X will only be available next summer, and for the time being, the French company only plans to offer the ORA-1 smart glasses to developers in January 2015. There are a lot of ifs and whens in the equation, as even the developer version is conditioned by the success of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. I guess that’s one of the many things that distinguishes Mountain View from Google-wannabes: certainty.
Unlike Google Glass, which provides useful information in the form of a minimalistic overlay, wearing ORA-X is said to be similar to wearing a tablet in front of your eyes at all times. I don’t know about you, but I would find that terribly distracting.
Flip-Vu, one of the proprietary features of the ORA-X smart glasses, adds an augmented reality layer over the wearer’s field of view. In glance mode, the alternative to Flip-Vu, the virtual layer is facing downwards, and doesn’t inconvenience the wearer that much. The glasses can also act as a standalone Android 4.2.2. (soon to have KitKat) device, so Optinvent is not that independent from Google.
While the 5MP camera and the GPS sensor are nice touches, the battery life is terrible, but this seems to be a common problem with wearables. Intensive use will drain the battery in 2 hours, while using it in a normal regime will get 7 hours out of it. If your work somehow depends on these smart glasses, make sure you’re near a power outlet.
In terms of connectivity, the usual suspects are present, namely Bluetooth 4.0 LE and Wi-Fi.
It’s quite hard to tell whether the project will get funded or not on Kickstarter, as the campaign has just taken off, and at press time there were 57 more days to go with $17,116 of the $100K needed for mass-producing this wearable. As mentioned above, the ORA-X will be available for $300 in June 2015, should the campaign be successful, while the ORA-1 developers’ edition will cost $599 for early birds and $649/699 for regular backers.
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