Yet another Google Glass challenger has taken to Kickstarter; this time it's the Optivent ORA-1. The company, which is seeking to raise at least $100,000, stakes their claim to fame on running Android 4.2.2 (with a promised upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat and a "Flip-Vu" display that pivots up in front of the wearer's eyes or drops down out of the way (kind of not really).
Unlike Google Glass, though, these aren't really going for sleek. The ORA-1 unit itself chunky and mounted on huge traditional glasses-style frames jutting out from your face. Fashion is of course a subjective thing, but the big blinders-style design of Optivent's headset just isn't doing it for us. That said, this thing is designed to be ab;e to run as a stand-alone device, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, though you'll need to hook it up with your phone if you want to use it on the go.
When it comes to the holy grail of connected eyewear, Optivent has some fancy ideas of what they'll be able to do with augmented reality, but they're also wholly unrealistic. You can watch the video if you want, but all you need to know is that right now, even with the Wikitude AR SDK in place, there's no way you'll be able to open the hood of your Chevy Volt and look at the engine compartment through the ORA-1 and diagnose what's gone wrong. At least not in the next five years.
All of this, though, is what Optivent calls a "developer platform." When it comes to pledges, Optivent is offering a $300 early "consumer version" backer edition (or $649 after the first 100 are sold), with shipping due in August 2015. But if you want to get in on the game early, it'll be a $599 pledge from you for a December 2014 delivery. Which, well… we'll see.
Optivent's vision for the ORA-1 is ambitious, but are they promising too much?