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Will Google Glass Be Dethroned Ahead Of Its Release? (GOOG)

Will Google Glass Be Dethroned Ahead Of Its Release? GOOG

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) gained some attention this week after reports claimed that the company will launch a separate app store for Google Glass.

Two weeks ago Google acquired key patents from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (OTC: HNHPF), the parent company of Foxconn, the world's largest assembler.

Google has yet to announce a specific release date for Glass, but it plans to deliver the consumer version sometime in 2014.

By then, a host of competitors may have already landed on store shelves.

One of them is simply known as Meta, a Kickstarter-supported project that was built by roughly 20 people living in a socialist house on top of a hill in Silicon Valley. Unlike Google Glass, the Meta 1 (the first-generation model) was not designed to beam a series of notifications to the user's eyes. It was designed to completely replace the need for a traditional PC.

"I have so many amazing [things] that I've seen and experienced already," Matt Kitchales, the Product Manager of the Meta glasses project, told Benzinga.

For the time being, Meta glasses are not free-roaming, 4G-enabled devices. In order to function, the glasses must be tethered to a Mac or Windows PC.

They are also a bit thicker than Google Glass. But when the consumer edition ships in April 2014, Meta should look closer to a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

"This is just the start," said Kitchales. "Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) I was a piece of junk. It was just a huge box. It's a phase things have to go through. It took Apple 30-something years to achieve the MacBook Air. We're aiming for greatness in less than six months."

Related: Android Beats Chrome as the Chosen OS for Google Glass

Kitchales was coy about what the future will hold for Meta. Thus far, more than 1,000 developers have signed up to make apps for these glasses, most notably in the areas of education. But there are a wide variety of apps that are in development, including a three-dimensional sculpting tool (called Game Draw 3D) and a laser tag game that turns the user's hands into virtual guns.

While Kitchales was reluctant to talk about the technology behind the Meta, the glasses' official website reveals some of the specifications:

  • Twin 960x540 see through TFT LCD displays at 23 degrees Field of View, via HDMI
  • 720p RGB camera via USB
  • 320x240 Infra-Red Depth Camera via USB
  • 9 degree of freedom sensor (3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis compass) via USB

After seeing the demo clip above, Kitchales understands that some people will be skeptical.

"As soon as you put the glasses on, the skepticism will turn to a huge smirk on your face," he said confidently. "It happens every time."

Related: Can Google Sell Expensive, High-Tech Glasses Without A Store Presence?

To illustrate this point, the Meta team introduced its glasses to Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman.

Meta glasses have also gotten the attention of James Knight, the motion capture producer of Avatar. With these glasses, he believes that a special app could allow director James Cameron to get a better look at a scene -- and view the CGI additions -- as the movie is being filmed.

Knight is not the only one who is interested in the Meta. While Kitchales would not get very specific, he said that he and other members of the Meta team have gotten a lot of stop-bys on their LinkedIn (NASDAQ: LNKD) pages.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ


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