If you cover a particular area in tech long enough, you develop certain pet peeves, and one of mine happens to be devices that attempt to keep us wed to the Google Glass style of augmented reality. And while I remain mostly uninterested in such devices, one of these products recently earned my admiration and might work for you, too, under the right circumstances. It's called the Golden-i Infinity.
Unveiled at this year's AWE conference by Massachusetts-based Kopin, the incredibly well-designed device is super light at just 1.5 ounces and clips on to anything from a pair of standard eyeglasses to a construction helmet.
Yes, that sounds a lot like Google Glass, but it's much different. Many years ago, when Google Glass first launched, I gave it a try and was mostly unimpressed. The images were frustratingly small and often blurred, the physical design was distracting for many, and the limited number of apps and use case scenarios didn't seem to warrant the eye-popping $1,500 price tag.
Flash forward to today and, even though there are still enthusiastic Glass users out there, I'm still not interested. But somehow, the Golden-i Infinity is something I could see using in 2018. But it's not just pretty, it's tough: it has a ruggedized IP67 waterproof and drop-proof design, and comes with a universal magnetic harness for mounting safety glasses or goggles.
Conveniently, the host device powers the Golden-i Infinity's software when it's connected to (your Android smartphone or Windows PC), which gives it a mobile use battery life of around 12 to 24 hours, depending on the mobile device you're using. The Golden-i Infinity itself also uses a tiny, rechargeable lithium-ion battery (3200 mAh).
With an interface controlled by head movements and voice, the images displayed through the device are amazingly clear and easy to interact with. I put the device to the test in the middle of a jam-packed conference floor filled with noise, competing voices, and bright lights shining from every direction, and the Golden-i Infinity held up just fine.
The device's built-in, noise-canceling microphone (which uses the company's Whisper Voice Extraction tech) easily picked up my voice commands. And the prismatic display's 20-degree field of view (compared to the 13-degree FoV of Google Glass) was perfect and would have worked even in bright sunlight, thanks to backlighting that can also be adjusted automatically or via voice commands.
The range of apps was limited, but I was impressed by how easy it was to line up a scene, snap a photo using its 13-megapixel camera, and then view that photo in a media gallery, all using voice commands in the noisy space. One of the cooler features I couldn't stop testing was the voice-controlled digital zoom function (which has four levels of zoom) — it's fast, easy, and powerful. You can also use the device to shoot video at up to 1080p at 30fps. The device also supports text messaging, dictation, and offers a barcode reader and a Chrome web browser.
All that and it still costs less than its predecessor at just $899, but it won't be available until later this year.
To be clear, this is something more geared toward enterprise users, so don't expect to see regular people walking around on the street with the Golden-i Infinity attached to their Ray-Bans. But the thing is, you could wear it in public, and it wouldn't look foolish, and you'd have a fairly robust tool at your disposal.