Looking For A Cheap And Chic Alternative To Google Glass?

GlassUp offers a heads-up display and Italian design cred. Can it compete with those other, better-known glasses?

While wearable technology is certainly a top tech trend of the year, there are two big objections constantly being raised about the best-known wearable, Google Glass. One is security and privacy: The idea that you can transmit pictures or video just by looking at someone has lots of people (and governments) weirded out. The other is style: The glasses, people say, just look too goofy.


Now there’s a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo for GlassUp, a new product that may answer both Glass-based objections. GlassUp doesn’t have the full feature set of Google Glass–notably, it doesn’t make calls or transmit photos or videos. And even though its creators call it “Augmented Reality,” it doesn’t really assimilate information from your surroundings like true AR.

Instead, GlassUp is simply a set of glasses featuring a one-color, text and image-based display that floats in the center of your visual field, relaying information from various apps on your phone via Bluetooth. As a heads-up second screen, it could be useful for displaying navigation, subtitles at the movies, or just keeping you apprised of incoming texts while you pretend to pay attention to the person standing in front of you. Just like with Google Glass, simple controls are in the frame.

The team behind GlassUp is based in Northeast Italy, which is, as they note, an international center for the eyewear trade. Their prototypes look more like regular glasses than Google Glass does. And notably, the price for a basic pair is set at $299, compared to $1,500 for the first batch of Google Glass. Will the public embrace this “minimum viable” version of the wearable idea? We’ll see.

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.