Optinvent is looking to cash in on the fledgling augmented reality glasses market with its ORA Android-powered eyewear. The firm will be shipping the device to developers from May, with a starting price of €699.
Multiple ORA devices were present at the Wearable Technology Show in London this week, so V3 took the chance to get some eyes-on time with Optinvent's kit.
Design and build
Optinvent is very clear that it's a hardware maker, not a software developer, so the design and build of the device should be the main focus here rather than its bare-bones version of Android and lack of fancy apps.
While chunky, the ORA feels fairly well built and has a number of design features that are intended to make it usable for all types of workers in various industries. We were particularly impressed with the mounting points for prescription lenses.
Optinvent were kind enough to bring along a selection of lenses to the event, and eventually found a pair that worked with this reporter's eyes. The prescription lenses slot in behind the main lenses of the ORA, which certainly isn't the most fashionable look, but in a work environment we imagine having clear vision will probably be a higher priority than fashionista status. The large outer lenses on the front of the device are made of photochromic glass, which reacts to sunlight and darkens in bright conditions.
There is a box – connected to the right-hand arm, which hooks over your ear – where all the action is. It includes a USB charging port, a microphone, a 5MP camera and proximity sensor, which are all ready and waiting for developers to create bespoke software.
Also connected to the right arm is the display itself, which comes in the form of a third lens piece that fits in between the prescription lenses and the front of the device. Finally, a rectangular touchpad surrounded by a bezel also features on the arm, and allows you to control the device by scrolling and tapping.
The arm moves up and down, which can place the display directly in the user's eyeline or just below it for quick glances.
The left arm of the device features the battery alone, which Optinvent said will last three hours with "intensive" use or eight hours with "typical" use. Quite what this means is unclear, but this is certainly a device that will only be used in specific situations, and will not be a companion for your everyday life.
At 80g the ORA isn't too heavy, and while they are very large when compared with normal glasses, we don't expect them to cause too much irritation with extended use.
Software and features
The Optinvent ORA is powered by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and features a very small-screen version of Google's operating system. The device is controlled using the touchpad, which moves a cursor. This is a fairly awkward affair as the pad itself is a long rectangle, meaning scrolling up and down is a lot harder than scrolling from side to side. You tap the touchpad to register a click, which is a fairly hit-and-miss affair depending on whether the headgear is securely mounted or not.
The interface itself is a bare-bones version of Android, which Optinvent hopes developers will augment with their own software. It's hard to judge the device on usability because of its lack of features at present, but with a microphone, WiFi, camera and motion sensors, there are going to be plenty of possibilities when the time comes.
At €699 this is a pricey device, which depends heavily on the developers Optinvent hopes will get involved. And whether developers and third-party companies choose the ORA over other kit on the market – such as Epson's Moverio glasses – remains to be seen.
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