Electric sunglasses record life through your eyes
By Dave Parrack
May 20, 2012
There is a bandwagon just starting to roll containing various pairs of video-capable and augmented reality glasses. Google is currently in the driver's seat, but it's far from the only company working on ways to allow us all to record video from a first-person perspective and integrate what we see into our online lives. A case in point is Vergence Labs' Social Video Electric Eyewear, a project that aims to raise US$50K via crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
Kickstarter projects vary wildly. Some offer a simple concept that needs funding to even get to the prototype stage, some an actual product that is almost ready to go but needs a final push, and some offer all of that and a lot more besides. Vergence Labs creators Erick Miller and Jon Rodriguez outline their lofty goal of reinventing the human-computer experience on the projects' Kickstarter page, but for now they're content with developing a pair of sunglasses with two key innovations built in.
The Social Video Electric Eyewear, as they're ominously named, are firstly a pair of electric-powered sunglasses that utilize "chromatic shifting conductive glass" to enable the lenses to be lightened or darkened with the press of a button. Secondly they contain a tiny camera capable of recording 720p video through the eyes of the wearer. The camera faces the world through a pinhole set between the two lenses, meaning the recorded images should be as close as possible to capturing the world as the wearer sees it. The video is saved to a microSD card, but the disappointing battery life of two hours means you won't be able to capture every moment of every day.
Whatever is captured can be shared via YouGen.TV, a video-sharing site which can then connect with social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Vergence Labs sees this as an opportunity to share "life memories" with other people.
The Social Video Electric Eyewear looks set to evolve as time goes on. Rodriguez is already talking about adding Wi-Fi to the glasses in order to allow live streaming to a phone or tablet, and there is also a vague plan to incorporate biometrics into the video-sharing site via other wearable electronics and embedded sensors. This would provide people with a synchronized life memory in which first-person video and data related to a person's pulse, blood pressure, and body temperature (as examples) are displayed simultaneously.
Other products in the same field are also being developed, with an immersive reality visor already at the prototype stage. This is being designed to allow people to be fully immersed in a 3D environment, so rather than passively watching a video recorded on the first-person camera embedded in the electric sunglasses, you could actively experience it yourself. It sounds a little sci-fi and reminiscent of films such as Total Recall and The Matrix, but if the end product is anywhere near as amazing as the sales pitch it could turn long-held sci-fi concepts into reality.
Beneath the over-enthusiastic chatter and abundance of exclamation marks that litter the Kickstarter page lies a rather ingenious product, but it's far from unique. ZionEyez and Pivothead are both already offering sunglasses with video cameras built in to them. And then, lest we forget, there is Project Glass. The Google effort is more ambitious than the others appear to be, with the search and advertising giant's ultimate aim being to provide a smartphone-like experience within a pair of spectacles. Whether that "One Day..." will ever actually arrive is open to debate.
The competition shouldn't take away from Vergence Labs' effort, which could provide the answer for those looking for a way of sharing their personal experiences online in a visually-compelling manner. And there's clearly a promise of much more to come from these two engineers with big ideas and the abundant energy.
As with all Kickstarter projects Vergence Labs needs to hit a certain monetary figure to be funded - $50K being the goal here. And then it all comes down to whether the two guys leading this effort can deliver on their ambitious promises which are outlined in the video below.
Ed's note: While on the topic of Kickstarter, here's an interesting look at how many projects and how much funding (now approaching $100 million) the crowdfunding site has overseen.