Can you tell this is a Google Glass competitor? That’s the idea

Talking about wearable tech at the moment usually means a device for your wrist, but as the year goes on, we’ll talk more about smart devices which you wear on your face. Google Glass is top dog, but it’s not the only pair of smart specs around. The latest challenger is called Icis from a company called Laforge Optical (who we like already, thanks to the name), and the Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign begins today.

Instead of showing a smartphone-like display in front of your eyes, Icis presents its information around the wearer’s field of vision. It’s less intrusive, and potentially more inclusive. Laforge CEO Corey Mack says the idea behind Icis is to “blur the line between virtual lives and real lives,” and combining this unusual view with a pair of smart glasses is the result.

To help Icis become part of your life, it has three modes: Normal, Active, and Drive. The accompanying SocialFlo app installed on your smartphone – Icis works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone – establishes what you’re doing, then changes the mode accordingly. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth, but also has NFC so the mode can be altered using QuickTags.

The SocialFlo app reworks existing apps into little widgets for use through Icis, and will display the usual email, social networking notifications, and navigational information, but also includes weather updates, calendar alerts, and information from apps such as Nike and FitBit. Icis has a set of touch panels on its arms, along with a volume up and down key for controlling a media player.

There are two versions of Icis planned. If you want to get a pair this year, the basic beta edition will ship in December, and has a 640 x 480 pixel resolution screen. It’s powered by a 1GHz TI processor with 512MB of RAM, and runs Linux. Next year, Icis Bold will be available, and it comes with an 800 x 600 pixel resolution display, 1GB of RAM, plus a 5-megapixel camera with a 720p video recording mode.

While the tech and software is a big part of Icis, Laforge Optical also wanted to create stylish and fashionable frames. Unlike Google Glass, Icis’ optics are blended into the lens, and the hardware is hidden away by an all-encompassing chassis with 50/50 weight distribution, designed to make the glasses look and feel like regular glasses. Laforge hasn’t revealed all the designs at the moment, but does say a variety of styles and colors will be available should the project meet its funding goal, and adds that prescription lenses are also coming.

So what is the goal? It’s $80,000. A basic beta version of Icis costs $420, but the slightly higher-specced Icis Bold needs you to dig a little deeper, and is priced at $620. The campaign is underway now, and ends next month.

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