Google Glass has new rival in GlassUp smart specs

If you missed out on becoming a Google Glass Explorer, you're you're in luck — sort of. GlassUp is here to fill the heads-up-display void with its GlassUp eyeglasses. These app-enabled specs connect directly with smartphones to deliver information right onto its lenses. The company has launched an Indiegogo campaign, with a goal of $150,000 (£99,000), and has just opened up pre-orders.

While GlassUp eyeglasses might share the same concept as Google Glass, they are two entirely different products. While Google Glass features native voice control and a built-in camera, GlassUp's eyeglasses have neither. The company touts its lack of privacy issues, but really these are two big omissions. GlassUp's eyeglasses will be "receive only" to start, meaning they can only receive information like notifications and not actually do anything, like snap a picture.

The GlassUp eyeglasses connect with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones via low-powered Bluetooth 4.0. Information is wirelessly transmitted from your smartphone and then projected onto the GlassUp lens. It basically serves as a second screen for your mobile device, meaning less time pulling out your smartphone to check those pesky notifications.

In function, it seems more akin to recent smartwatches like the Pebble, which also look to streamline your interactions with your smartphone by letting you quickly and easily sift through notifications.

The display will only be 320 x 240, which isn't as sharp as Google Glass's 640 x 360 display, and there's no Wi-Fi radio, so you'll have to rely solely on your smartphone for GlassUp to work. The lower-resolution display and lack of Wi-Fi likely contribute to better battery life, and GlassUp estimates that its eyeglasses should last for 150 hours of standby or eight hours of normal usage.

Instead of residing in the corner of your field of view, GlassUp projects its information towards the centre of your view — the company claims this makes it less cumbersome to check information, but I could see it being more of a nuisance than a feature.

There is one bright spot compared with Google Glass: Price. GlassUp will begin taking pre-orders for the relatively affordable price of $399 (£262). Compare that with Google Glass' $1,500 (£986) developer edition and those missing features become a bit more palatable.

GlassUp hopes to ship pre-orders by March 2014 and will continue with production even if the IndieGoGo campaign fails to reach its goal.