Google Glass's design has been criticized for being too obvious. When you're wearing Glass, everyone wonders what you're seeing on its tiny screen. Worse, people start fearing they're being recorded, even when they're not. Google still has a ways to go in educating the public on how Glass works. Icis is a new Glass rival that aims to provide more advanced augmented reality features without attracting unwanted attention.
Laforge Optical founder and CEO Corey Mack thinks Google Glass isn't stylish enough. With wearables on the rise, Mack and his team came up with Isis, a pair of regular-looking glasses with the aim of masking its extra-technological capabilities.
When worn, Icis can bring up information by overlaying them over real-world objects using augmented reality. The info is served up by a connected smartphone. And just like Glass, Icis is operated with swipes and taps on its side touchpad. In the demo video below, we see conceptual scenarios where users can get navigation, make phone calls, bring up fitness tracking data, and even get gaming notifications.
Speaking with CNET, Mack says he thinks wearables are better when they're undetectable. In other words, people will freak out less when they don't know you're wearing augmented reality glasses:
"There is no light that comes on with these when you are being filmed. We felt that a light would be overkill and that people would think that they would be getting scanned. Additionally, if I were in a crowded bar or walking down the street I wouldn't know how many cell phone cameras and police cameras were looking at me anyway. I like to look at the upsides of having a camera like this on board. Think of how many people who were wrongly convicted of crimes would not be in jail right now or how much more abuse of police power would be exposed."
While Mack's reasoning may come from good intentions, most people will disagree, including Google. The reason Glass has an obvious screen that lights up is to let outsiders know that the device is on, and that they may be recorded by its camera. It's a deliberate visual design cue.
With so many places banning Glass (casinos, movie theaters, etc.), it'll be interesting to see how Icis plans to address privacy concerns. Fashionable wearable technology is important, but most will agree privacy is even more so.
As of this writing, the Icis indiegogo campaign has racked up over $13,340 of its $80,000 goal with 30 days remaining.