Pivothead video sunglasses get SMART with live streaming and modular architecture
By C.C. Weiss
January 12, 2014
Already one of the most intriguing combinations of sunglasses and camera technology available, Pivothead glasses just got a little SMARTer. The Pivothead SMART debuted at CES 2014, combining 1080p filming with a new suite of wearable technologies. They allow you to live-stream video, control filming remotely with a smartwatch or mobile device, and run apps.
The base SMART glasses are similar to first-generation Pivothead sunglasses with a few key improvements. They have the same 1080p HD camera integrated between the lenses, 8-megapixel Sony sensor and 44.1 kHz microphone. The memory capacity has been doubled to 16GB, which Pivothead estimates is ample for about two hours of 1080p footage. With the help of Bluetooth 4.0 LE, the glasses now offer wireless capabilities such as remote control via smartphone or smartwatch and video upload.
Where the Pivothead SMART glasses really take off is in their modular architecture. The caps in the product name aren't just for effect, they're an acronym that stands for Simple Modular Application-Ready Technology – in other words, a bunch of new accessories that add some nice features. The glasses have ports at the end of each earpiece for accepting the three different SmartMods.
The Live Mod adds Wi-Fi and live streaming capabilities. Instead of simply filming footage for later view, wearers can share real-time POVs with Web and mobile app viewers. Such live HD streaming may sound like the latest way for people to over-share the minutia of everyday life, but Pivothead shows some very intriguing, though potentially morally/legally ambiguous, ideas like streaming from a concert or sporting event. Of course, if you're doing something significant or exciting of your own, say getting married or BASE jumping, you could make live footage available for family, friends and followers around the world.
The second module is the Air Mod, which turns the SMART glasses into smart glasses. In addition to live-streaming capabilities like those on Live Mod, the Air Mod tacks on an Android OS, GPS, a 9-axis sensor set, a built-in speaker and more. It doesn't seem like Pivothead has figured out everything that it wants to do with all that hardware, but it has opened its SDK and is hoping that developers will come up with all kinds of apps for the glasses. It also mentions the idea of being able to use voice and gesture control with the Air Mod.
While the SMART is a step closer to a full-blown smart glass like Google Glass, Pivothead is careful to draw a line. It explains that the glasses are designed for content creation, not content consumption. Their features are reflective of the difference.
"Our camera glasses are designed to encourage social interaction, active sharing and the effortless documentation of your life in ways previously unimagined, in real time and in full HD," explains Pivothead founder and president Christopher Cox. "HUD’s in their current technological iteration are anti-social in more ways than one and therefore counter to our objectives."
Instead of a full-on HUD with data and imaging, the SMART glasses use an LED Lightguide. Located in the upper part of the frame, these lights convey information about battery power, recording status, and available memory so that you don't have to remove the glasses to check. When powered by the Air Mod, Pivothead also envisions a variety of new app functions, such as GPS navigation prompts.
Both the Live Mod and Air Mod also include microSD slots for expanded storage up to 32 GB.
The third available mod is the Fuel Mod, which is essentially a secondary, 1,000 mAh battery that triples battery life over the hour of filming the primary battery offers. The Fuel Mod can also be used to charge external mobile devices.
One thing we like about the original Pivotheads that carries over to the SMARTs is that instead of just building a novelty product with cheap hardware, Pivothead seems to have blended quality tech features with a nice pair of sunglasses. The SMARTs will launch with two sunglass options: the half-framed Colfax with photochromic lenses and the full-framed Teller with polarized lenses. After launch, it plans to offer accessory lenses.
Pivothead recently completed a successful Indiegogo campaign. On the campaign page, it estimates that a bundle with the SMART glasses and all three Mods will retail for US$629. It plans to start shipping in April.