We have seen Kickstarter-launched wearables before, but this one is particularly unique and may even have you blinking a bit in wonder when you see how it functions.
Startup GWD Bio-Intelligence has just launched pre-sales for its HiiDii glasses, a device that allows the user to control desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices solely with eye blinks and head movements.
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And while these glasses don't feature any sort of augmented reality display, they do offer some of the hands-free functionality promised by some of the leading smartglasses manufacturers and can be had for a shockingly cheap price.
In a nutshell, this mobile controller for your face is billed as an item of supreme convenience for multitaskers, offering value for professionals who constantly switch between desktop and mobile screens, or for skilled workers who need to keep their hands free while doing things like cooking or repairing a car engine.
During a beta test, some users demoed the glasses by operating a head-controlled cursor for online surfing, shopping, and gaming.
HiiDii's handsfree promise is boldly laid out on its Kickstarter campaign page, and there will be many who find the $100 price mark, a discount from the future, post-campaign retail price of $259, pleasing to the eye. The smartglasses, set to ship in March 2020, are available in black or white, and can be purchased at a discount without the lenses to use with prescription lenses from an optician.
Users firing up the glasses for the first time must download the HiiDii Smart app (to be released for Windows, Mac OS and Android soon) and pair their devices with HiiDii's Bluetooth connection.
From then on, the smartglasses work through a combination of blink-detection and head movements. We asked the company how, specifically, the blink detection works, but the team declined to provide much detail. Nevertheless, based on the available documentation, it appears that the sensors on the glasses frame's nose bridge may be what the system uses to detect the various blinks.
Upon first wearing the glasses, users must train the HiiDii's software to recognize the difference between a click-activating blink and a natural blink.
Blinking clicks the cursor, but you must be careful how you blink — blinking twice slowly double clicks, and quickly launches dragging. Other blinks signal the device to open files or right-click, along with the ability to move between operating system windows.
Besides detecting blinks, the device also detects your head movement to move the cursor around. It can do this because it has an integrated gyroscope, not unlike the latest versions of Google Glass and the Vuzix Blade, or your run-of-the-mill smartphone, for that matter.
Although the device will have Windows, Mac, and Android compatibility, there's no word on iOS functionality for iPhone and iPads just yet. Aside from the computing platforms the device can access, the startup claims its glasses offer a 30-foot Bluetooth range, as well as eight hours of battery life.
However, this company is still playing catch up with other companies that are ahead in the hands-free game. A more established wearables maker, ThirdEye Gen features control of smartglasses via head movement for some software within both its X1 and X2 smartglasses. Vuzix's Blade smartglasses also offer head motion control within apps.
Shuttered wearables maker ODG also demoed head tracking for a media app within the operating system of its R-9 smartglasses.
After getting a look at the company's product marketing videos, some will likely see still other possibilities for the device from this Shenzen, China and US-based startup, which is the brainchild of biomedical engineering consultant Wang Chao.
As manufacturers are mostly targeting enterprise in their quest to go handsfree, perhaps the most novel avenue opened up by the HiiDii is how it can enable those who have a disability (see video above) or lack freedom of movement in their hands to access the web, at a fraction of the cost of AR smartglasses.