Google Glass is the most recognizable name in smart eyewear, but at $1,500 it’s not exactly the most viable option for the masses. The ORA-X, on the other hand, is a pair of smart eyeglasses that’s on track to be sold to consumers for a much more palatable $300 a pop next summer.
France-based eye-display technology company Optinvent is hardly a new player in the space. To the contrary, the company has been working on augmented-reality eyeglasses for several years now. With the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for its ORA-1 smart glasses for developers, the company appears ready to finally launch a mainstream product to challenge Google Glass.
Optinvent makes it clear on its Kickstarter page that the ORA-1 isn’t meant to be a consumer-ready pair of smart glasses. This pair is meant to be a platform for developers to build apps upon.
The ORA-1 features “Flip-Vu,” which basically means the wearer can be in augmented-reality mode (i.e., the virtual display is in the center of the wearer’s field of vision) or glance mode (i.e., the virtual display is pointed downward and is visible only at the bottom of the wearer’s view).
The smart eyeglasses can also run as a standalone Android device (currently on 4.2.2, with plans to upgrade to KitKat) natively running Android apps. “The ORA is like an Android tablet in the form of eyeglasses,” according to the ORA-1’s Kickstarter page.
While the developer-oriented ORA-1 looks quite unwieldy, Optinvent says the next generation will see a 60 percent “improvement in form factor” and a 40 percent improvement in power consumption. The ORA-1 is scheduled to ship in January 2015, and the consumer-ready ORA-X is scheduled to ship in June 2015.