And let the Google Glass competitors enter the ring

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on April 26, 2013

From The News Desk

The Google Glass developer program is just beginning and already we’re hearing  murmurs of an on-sale date either later this year or early next. The "Google monocle," as I like to call it, aims to seamlessly integrate technology into everyday life, allowing you to more easily search the Web, take photos, get directions, etc. Instead of dipping into your pocket for your smartphone you can, at the blink of an eye, so to speak, accomplish the same end.

It seemed like only a matter of time before competing products entered the race, and sure enough, the first to make waves is a Google Glass knockoff called “Telepathy One,” which sounds like a gizmo President Obama would use if he had telepathic superpowers. The device is the pet project of Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi, who unveiled it at SXSW last March and showed his most recent prototype at a media event in New York earlier this week. While Iguchi insists Telepathy isn’t a competitor to Google Glass, let’s be real: It is.

Iguchi is a well-known trailblazer in the augmented reality world. He was the former CEO of Tonchidot, a company best known for its augmented reality app Sekai Camera. He quit Tonchidot in 2012, and now hopes to create what he calls a “wearable industry.” What makes Telepathy different from Google Glass, he says, is its sleek, stylish appearance and focus on social communication. Along with that, he promises that it will be cheaper than the developer price of Google Glass. So Telepathy's price could make it a real competitor, much like what Google did to the iPhone.

What the Telepathy ostensibly does is allow you to capture moments and almost instantaneously disseminate them to your social network of friends, faux friends, and family. “We share everything over social network,” Iguchi said, which I guess means that any image or video snapped with Telepathy will end up in your Facebook Feed and over Twitter.

The use cases that Iguchi presented for his smaller glass monocle were simple. Capture an image with the Telepathy and pass them along to others. Iguchi plans to integrate the product into various social media to make sharing even easier and comprehensive.

He believes there are too many steps required to seamlessly share a moment with others. For instance, let’s say you see a cat doing something cute. Right now, you have to dig into your pocket, pull out your phone, open the camera app, snap the picture, open your Facebook app, click the share button, then share the picture. My god, that took a while (though not really, if you think about it. Imagine how long it would have taken a decade ago.). Telepathy, in contrast, will allow you the see the cat, take the picture, and send it with little delay.

He highlighted the product through its first app, one that takes snapshots then uploads the pictures into a Manga-style cartoon grid. I got to see examples of this app in action, and it was indeed enjoyable and original.

To add to that, Iguchi emphasized the product’s stylishness. Where Google Glass looks like a dystopic headpiece from a ‘90s flick, Telepathy does look, well, cooler, akin to a pop star’s headset. As Iguchi puts it, “Google Glass is definitely not artistic or aesthetic.”

I got to try on the headpiece and look at the display. The prototype did have a sleeker body than Google Glass, however, it wasn’t completely calibrated, and I had to hold the display with my hand to properly see it. There wasn’t an external camera attached to it yet, so images could only be sent to me. It’s still in its “baby stages.”

Now for the elephant in the room: Is it a worthy competitor to Google Glass? It could be. The Telepathy One isn’t completely finished yet, nor does the team have a completely set design for how its interface will work. The idea is imaginative, albeit akin to a potential app for Google Glass.

When questioned about the similarities of the products, Iguchi said he loved Google Glass. “For us we wanted to design something that’s very hot and very cool, and make a device [for people to] connect with each other. I believe our mission is different from Google Glass.”

Sure, sure. If that’s so, then you could imagine consumers owning both a Google Glass and a Telepathy One. And that’s highly unlikely.

Iguchi hopes to have a working model available to purchase before the end of the year.