Ben WoodsEurope Editor
Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.
Wearable tech might be the hot trend of 2014, but Boston-based Laforge thinks there’s just enough room on the market for its Icis smart glasses.
The company claims that where other devices go wrong is by focusing exclusively on the tech experience, but in doing so, completely ignore fashion. This is where Laforge hopes Icis can carve out its niche – by providing a range of different frames to suit different people, but all with the same core functionality.
Like Glass, Icis glasses play home to a camera, microphone, and a speaker. Unlike Glass, however, they feature a display directly in the line of vision that will show you all your updates as they happen. The company says that app notifications on your smartphone will be automatically converted into widgets displayed on the UI of the Icis glasses.
Essentially, it seems Laforge wants to get around platform compatibility issues by providing its own app called SocialFlo, which will then take care of showing you notifications from your usual networks and apps. All you’d need to do is download the app and connect to your phone (whichever platform it is) via Bluetooth to receive notifications.
Laforge said that Icis will also have three main activity modes: Normal, Active (cuts social notifications to a minimum while jogging, for example) and Drive, which only allows data related to driving to be displayed.
Whether or not Laforge’s system will be able to compete with the sudden influx of smart wearables remains to be seen, but the company’s CEO Corey Mack is optimistic about its chances:
We are working with eyewear and eye care professionals to make sure that this project fits within their ecosystem. We have a turnkey solution when it comes to manufacturing, and a year or so down the road you could potentially walk into an eye shop and have Icis be produced to your exact dimensions in about an hour.
That’s a pretty big ambition right there.
Laforge is only kicking off its Indiegogo project today, so there’s a way to go still to get these particular glasses through from crowdfunding idea to a delivered product, but if you want to show support there are a range of options available.
The cheapest pledge that will actually net you a pair of Icis glasses is the $420 Beta Kit (plus $50 for international shipping) option. Alternatively, if you want one of the first pairs of slightly more aesthetically appealing ones from the Icis Bold line, that’ll cost you $620. The Bold versions also include a higher resolution 1280 x 680 pixel display, instead of the 680 x 480 pixel resolution on the regular/beta kit version.
If the project reaches its target, the first Icis Bold units are expected to start shipping in January 2015, although the Beta Kit orders should be sent out from December this year, if you just can’t wait the extra month.
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