If you know anything about Russia, you'll know car dash cams are used extensively by the average citizen.
It is mostly used as safeguard to combat police corruption and to document accidents in real time. And it often comprises indisputable evidence in court.
Citizen spying is a fairly new phenomena in the U.S., but it is beginning to catch on.
Enter Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Glass.
The dash cam phenomenon hasn’t reached the States, but eventually even those Russians who use them on the go may end up trading their car cams for a more mobile piece of recording hardware like Google Glass.
Google Glass has been one of the most talked about pieces of hardware this summer, but there are other high-tech alternatives that you may not have heard of. These could pose a real threat to Google’s latest gadget.
Google Glass will be a trailblazer, but it is controversial because of its ability to record. GlassUp, set to debut in February of next year, does not have a camera and is more of an app-oriented piece that allows you to view SMS messages, track emails, and integrate GPS.
It can act as a local guide to travelers and be useful in fast-paced work environments like construction, warehousing, or cook lines.
The frames are a bit geeky, but the GlassUp serves as a mode of function rather than fashion.
It also comes with a price tag of $399, giving it a huge boost over Google Glass, which may run up to $1,500.
But don’t think of this as a cheaper alternative to Google Glass; GlassUp is a different breed than Google’s version and can cater to consumers not keen on acting as a living spy-cam wherever they go.
GlassUp CEO Francesco Giartosio started the GlassUp project two years ago with the help of scientists who have connections to the Italian air force. Giartosio’s work has finally been vindicated with the onset Google Glass, and GlassUp may get a future boost in sales as a result of Google Glass attention.
But Giartosio still believes his product is superior. For instance, he believes having the information located in the center field of vision is a better alternative to Google Glass, where information is concentrated in the top right-hand corner of the screen, potentially causing distraction and eye strain.
There is also a drawback with GlassUp, since a person’s vision is essentially blocked when accessing information, but this will all boil down to consumer preference as people decide between Google Glass and GlassUp.
GlassUp is one option if you’re looking to invest in a Google alternative, but if you’re looking for something truly groundbreaking, hold out for Meta 1.
The Meta 1 essentially acts as a 3-D computer before your very eyes. It not only seeks to directly compete with Google but could entirely do away with tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers – at least according to Meron Gribetz, a 27 year old inventor and the face behind Meta 1.
The Meta 1 goes above and beyond its competitors with such attributes as full access to the Internet, allowing you to control digital information with your fingertips, and 3-D game capability.
The possibilities are nearly endless with this device, with other potential perks such as the ability to watch tutorial guides as you cook a fancy meal or fix a complex component of a run-down vehicle.
A beta test version will debut in September of this year, but ten more versions are planned in the future. Early testers will pay a price of $700, but there is no telling how the Meta 1 will look when it is ready for public debut or what the official price tag will look like at launch.
For now, at least, the Meta 1 itself is an unappealing piece of bulky eyewear you would find from a 1980s tech lab. Still, Gribetz is looking for a fight with the likes of Google and other tech heavyweights, and if it pays off, it could very well be one of the best innovations in tech history, changing the nature of tech culture.
If you’re weary of the app-saturated surveillance market, there are glasses out there that will help the visually deficient live a better life.
Adlens is probably one of the more awkward-looking specs on the market, but the liquids inside the lens are equipped with adjustable knobs on the side of the frames that will fluctuate the fluids to accommodate nearsightedness or farsightedness.
And you can adjust individual lenses if one eye requires special tuning.
If you can get passed the outdated John Lennon-style frames, a pair of Adlens glasses will run anywhere from $40 to $100.
There are also medical glasses strictly for medical professionals. The O2Amp tinted glasses allow doctors to gauge oxygen blood levels and to get a better view of bruises and unseen injuries.
A similar pair, called the Oxy-Iso glasses, also have the capacity to treat red-green color blindness. These types of glasses will set you back $300, which is not that far a spread from standard prescription glasses.
Can Google Glass Compete?
Google can still beat the competition, and here’s why.
The Meta 1 poses the most threat to Google, but it will be a long time before Gribetz’s headpiece is available for mass consumption.
GlassUp could take a slice away from the Google market, but the mounted camera that Google offers will be the primary draw for many consumers.
And while the idea of recording eyeglasses are nothing new, Google’s version has an entirely different dynamic.
Google Glass can be voice-activated and is an app-based piece of hardware, similar to that of GlassUp. The slim, post-modern framework will appeal to consumers concerned about fashion with their eyewear.
GlassUp is an innovation within itself, but Google Glass draws from the new era of mass surveillance.
It will be a great tool for journalists or advocates looking to blow the lid off a particular issue. Drivers can take surveillance cues from the Russians and wear Google Glass as they drive. Explorers can record awe-gazing scenery in real time, and adventurers can allow the world join in on their dangerous exploits.
In today’s self-absorbed world, where everyone seems to want their own reality show, narcissistic people can playfully use Google Glass to record every second of their lives for friends and family on social media.
But here is where Google Glass can be limiting.
There is already legislation circulating in some states that would essentially ban Google Glass while driving, and Glass users may not be able to go in certain places when wearing them, something that could detract customers from making a purchase.
And the high-end price tag of $1,500 is a bit hefty for some, even for those accustomed to buying $800 smartphones.
All a future competitor has to do is come up with a similar device that has the same features as Google Glass but with a much cheaper price tag.
For now, at least, Google can rest easy, but it cannot ignore the groundswell of competition and current models that could easily eat away its business down the road.
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