Augmented Reality Wearables

You’d go mad thinking MAD Glass was Google’s

When Google Glass was first announced, it was an extremely cool idea. As time passed, though, the ethical concerns with the platforms use and the general societal discomfort associated with someone having a digital device plastered to their face during all aspects of the day soon became too much to overcome, leaving the idea to wither away to relative obscurity.

With its Mad Glass, Dragon Creative is reviving the idea of a glasses-styled interface to which a user can offload smartphone features. The company’s goal mirrors Google’s in that they’d like the use of augmented reality to keep important notifications and application in front of users so they can stay present in the world rather than keeping their eyes down to a screen. And in theory, offering features like video recording, GPS navigation, web browsing and even real-time translation should do the trick.

If history is any indication, though, it will most likely meet a similar fate as Google’s version of Glass. It’s certainly useful and will continue to be so with a proprietary app store so that users , but the general image of this interface has been set in the public consciousness — and it’s not a positive one. Still, those who truly believe in the idea of Glass can grab these for $652 with an expected ship date of September 2015. Mad Glass is looking for $72,500 by January 26th, 2015.

Input Virtual Reality

Impression Pi virtual reality headset tries to make an impression, gets a meh instead

Everyone is searching for the holy grail of virtual reality. In the meantime, companies from all over the world are busy throwing everything at the wall in an effort to see what sticks. Currently, Oculus Rift is the obvious leader, but with upstarts from companies like HTC and Valve,  SamsungMicrosoft, and all the other little guys vying for attention through crowdfunding platforms, the landscape is bursting at the seams.

Impression Pi is another combination virtual reality, augmented reality mobile headset that works with iOS and Android smartphones, provided they have 5 inch displays or larger. By combining accurate head tracking capabilities, gesture control, and both VR and AR environmental overlays, users can transform their real world surroundings into virtual environments capable of being traversed with the Impression Pi’s ability to track positioning. The Impression Pi’s interface also allows for social media engagement, not to mention movie viewing and gaming as well. Even better, all of this is possible with just a flick of the finger and the wave of a hand. $279 gets backers the smartphone version while $359 will get backers the Master edition which can be used sans smartphone. If the $78,000 goal sees success by May 5, 2015, backers can expect their own Impression Pi in December 2015.

Impression Pi treads on familiar ground. The ShareVR is another mobile VR solution, although it has to be tethered to a PC — ultimately limiting the “mobile” aspect of the design. Another gesture-enabled VR product is the Pinć VR, a headset which can be folded into a smartphone case. The Impression Pi may be powerful enough to create environments, but it isn’t as portable as the Pinć VR. The latter proves its usefulness in more real-world situations, while the Impression Pi is stuck at home. With no compelling use cases in the pipeline, the Impression Pi will likely have a tough time garnering support.

Cell Phone Accessories Virtual Reality

Master your reality with the SEER augmented reality helmet

The future is truly now, and a procession of various augmented and virtual reality products signify that with their promises of revolutionary experiences. The problem with many of them is their relatively small fields of view that can lessen the illusion of reality.

SEER by Caputer Labs uses a smartphone to fully immerse viewers into an alternative reality with a headset capable of displaying an impressive field of view of 100°. With so much screen space, experiences once limited by the un-augmented world creeping in on the sides are able to become so much more. The campaign touts augmented reality experiences that are already available on the iOS and Android platforms but reinvigorated through the immersion SEER offers.

Star maps and gaming take a leap forward in terms of usability, all controlled with a wide-range of inputs like joysticks, gaming controllers, keyboards, or gestures when nothing else is around. Open source hardware and software ensure new applications will be developed, given enough interest. The increased field of view makes SEER incredibly bulky when compared to other, more standard headsets like the Viewbox. (But luckily, it doesn’t look as inane as the AirVR.) SEER is impressively priced at just $119, and its $100,000 goal has a deadline of March 3. Its developers see the product shipping in September of this year.

Cell Phone Accessories Toys

Drops turns simple toy critters into augmented reality pets

Premise. If videos of babies on tablets teach us anything, it’s that mass adoption of electronics knows no age limits. While digital pets have grown more sophisticated since Tamagotchi days, it’s not easy keeping up with today’s twelve-year-old.

Product. Drops are real-life stuffed animal characters, each with a different name and very unique fun facts to accompany it. Using an app and augmented reality technology, Drops become digital pets that kids can interact with from an app on their smartphones or tablets. Regular sized Drops are plush and can fit in the palm of your hand, so they’re “easy to sneak into class” – a very attractive trait for the average middle-schooler.

Pitch. A witty and charming pitch video features inventor Lenay Dunn explaining that she was inspired to create Drops as a child when she’d imagine her stuffed animals were really alive. She envisions Drops becoming this generation’s digital pet, joining the ranks of Tamagotchi, Furby and Gigapet. So far there are seven drop characters, many additionally available in “super size” – about the size of a basketball. Among the more creatively named Drops is Meowseph, who has whiskers and also, parents that compromised on combining “Meow” and “Joseph” when naming him. The campaign is looking to raise $80,000 in a flexible funding over 30 days which will go toward creating an initial concept for Drops. Specifically, the augmented reality pieces including design and animation will be worked on, and once Drops has a solid proof of concept they will go to investors to raise the remainder of the money needed to “drop” Drops in the market.

Perks. For $9 plus $2 shipping within US, you can back Drops and receive your choice of Firework, Vampy, Dropula, PB & Drop, or Mewoseph. For $12, you can choose to be surprised or you can reserve Corny. For a $15 pledge, you may reserve a Diamond Drop. Drop perks continue on up to a $10,000 donation which allows your voice to be used as one of Drops’ final “noises”, plus you will help name and design. If $10,000 is too steep, consider donating $2,500 for the “DROPelganger” package – get Drops for you and two friends with your name, likeness, personality and voice – best-named perk ever.

Potential. While the pitch video references Furby as a toy of the past, the 2013 holiday season proved that this little guy has upped his game. Today’s Furby Boom toys come in all patterns and colors and work with an app where kids collect, hatch and raise their Furblings. Unlike Drops, there is an electronic element in that Furby requires batteries and has a certain amount of responses it can provide. Still, depending on start-up costs, Drops has the potential to be much cheaper than Furby and can provide a very similar experience. Drops’ inability to speak back or make noises may not even be seen as a disadvantage to kids, as you can argue they are mostly going to be engaged in the activities possible within the app.