Ever since True Lies I’ve been waiting for an affordable pair of spy glasses that can transmit video in real time. My wait looks like it may be over very soon. Seattle startup ZionEyez is building momentum to launch their Eyez video recording glasses this year. The Roy Orbison looking Eyez will feature a 720p HD recording camera, microphone, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, 8 GB flash memory, and three hours of battery life. Using an iPhone or Android app you can transmit what your Eyez record directly to the web, or you can save and upload it later using a microUSB port. Take a tour of the Eyez in the animated video below. As part of their KickStarter funding project, you can get a pair of these video glasses for just $150 (shipping winter 2011), or wait until after July 31st for the general retail release at $200. *Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Eyez, the KickStarter project has already met its goal of $55,000 – it took less than eight days!* These glasses are just plain awesome, and I can’t wait until mine arrive. With devices like these I think we’re moving ever closer to a world where everything you do is being recorded and shared as it happens. Lifelogging, thine name is Eyez.
ZionEyez is currently in the process of formalizing their optical choices, so there’s no sample of the video Eyez will record. Still, the following animation is a great overview of the general style of the glasses, and the specs of the equipment that will be onboard.
What we do know about the Eyez is that they will record in 1280x720p HD video at 30 frames per second using a wide angle lens to capture a good view of what you’re seeing. The LED indicator light for recording will only flash once, and it will be internalized so only the wearer sees it – you’re friends won’t know they’re on camera! Talk about spy glasses. There’s also Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity so you can transmit data to your smart phone of choice and from their to Qik or Livestream and onward to Facebook, etc. Audio is recorded at 128 kb/s (reasonable quality) for a total stream with video around 15 Mbps. Not a bad setup and with a three hour battery life (and 8GB of memory), you’ll get plenty of power to handle webcasts.
But that’s just one application. The ZionEyez vision includes replacing/augmenting mobile video recording. Right now when you want to snap a pic or record something on the go, you probably use either your phone or some dedicated camera (let’s say a Flip). How long can you hold that gadget up before your arms get tired? How involved can you be in what’s happening when you have to track what you’re seeing through the display of your mobile device? With Eyez you get a hands free first person view that’s both discreet and easy to share. Epic win in my book.
Now some hardcore video jockeys out there aren’t going to be satisfied with just 3 hours of recording per charge. For you, the microUSB port on ZionEyez will be a means of extending record time (through an external battery), as well as possibly transferring data onto different platforms (backup drive, etc).
What this means is that whether you are an avid lifelogger, or just someone who wants a better mobile video solution, Eyez has something to offer. Which I think means ZionEyez has a really good chance of succeeding. Their KickStarter page agrees. In the time it took me to write this article they received $2000 in pledges. They’ve already met their goal of $55k, and they have more than 50 days left to go in their pledge drive! In interest of full disclosure, I was one of the people who’s pledged money to the project – the offer for $150 HD spy glasses was just too good to pass up. Singularity Hub’s Keith Kleiner also pledged for a pair of these glasses. (And that offer should still be good up to July 31st…so, you know…don’t miss it).
We’ve covered several different video recording glasses in the past. Most, however, are aimed at the outdoor sports enthusiasts, and few are offered as cheaply as $150. What really makes me think that the Eyez could be a breakout gadget, however, is that it looks like it will have the right combination of appearance and performance. The Ray-Ban style frames will pass unnoticed in most social situations, especially as you can swap out clear or shaded lenses as you like (you could also easily fitt prescription lenses). The connectivity through a smart phone matches up with the planned user base very well, as does their vision for linking these glasses directly to the social network. Eyez seem to be custom fit to sell well. Indeed, $55k in eight days means they already have succeeded as a KickStarter project.
Now, as cool as Eyez may appear, there’s still plenty of reasons to be cautious. That animation video is great, but it’s not a real product. Is it vaporware? Well, the cynic in me says it’s too early to say otherwise, but ZionEyez CTO, Joe Taylor, is coming from Flip, a company that made millions on mobile cameras , and I don’t think there’s anything in this build that would be impossible or undeliverable at this price. Should we be concerned that Eyez is coming from a crowd sourced project rather than a big name distributor? Maybe. But it could also just be a sign that bright young entrepreneurs know that there’s more money to be made the longer they stay independent.
You know, I already pledged money to these guys, so maybe I’m biased. Look over their site, their project page, their specs, and decide for yourself.
What I’m certain of is that this kind of product – camera glasses that blend in and allow for easy hands free recording – is going to be hitting the mainstream, and soon. There are many companies entering this field, including big names like Polaroid, and roughly similar devices are already on the market. In the next few years the number of people wearing video glasses is likely to expand from celebrities like Lady Gaga to thousands of average people looking for an easy way to share their lives. That may excite you, it may you make you paranoid about privacy, or it may strike you as silly. Doesn’t matter. Get ready for everything you see to be on the social network. The future of mobile recording is very near.