Google showed off a splashy redesign of Glass last month, offering an array of new frame choices, but Boston-based Laforge Optical believes consumers crave even more fashionable options for their smart glasses.
On Tuesday the company debuted Icis, a line of head-mounted computing glasses, and took to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in hopes of raising $80,000 to hire designers and engineers and bring its Glass competitor to life. So far, supporters have contributed more than $3,000 into the first day of its campaign.
The idea for Icis stemmed from a smart home side project that Laforge CEO Corey Mack worked on with some classmates while studying at Rochester Institute of Technology. "We determined the problem with that is that people don't have their smartphones on them at all times," he told Fast Company. After exploring different wearable options, including pendants and bracelets, they settled on creating smart eyewear. Icis shows the wearer notifications from their smartphone.
Customizable with prescription lenses, Icis comes in three tiers, and the most robust version, Bold, includes a high-resolution display and built-in camera. Bold, which is available to backers who pledge at least $620, doesn't have a way to alert people that the wearer is taking pictures or recording video, but Mack doesn't think such a feature is necessary. "Something like an indicator light would be overkill and not very useful," he said. "I don't think people would be using it for this," citing cheaper options for surveying and capturing footage.
As for whether Laforge can challenge the behemoth that is Google, Mack thinks that the level of refinement found in Icis will attract a certain subset of tech lovers. "People who are into Google Glass, I think, are into it for the novelty," he said. "We're going one way, and I think they're going a different way. I think competition would be good because at least people have another option."