Google Glass might have just met its match.
Two-year-old Epiphany Eyewear boasts that its glasses do everything that Google's do - without making you look like a character on Star Trek. Even better: Unlike Google's version, they're available now for purchase.
L.A.-based Epiphany was founded by a Stanford student and a UCLA student in 2012. Their mission: to create a pair of augmented-reality glasses accessible to the everyday person.
Looks like they've succeeded: While the Mountain View-based tech giant is still only offering glasses to select customers on a waiting list, Epiphany execs says they're ready to ship "imminently."
Best of all? They'll set you back just $299 for the base model.
Cory Greiner, Epiphany's director of marketing and sales, says the glasses come equipped with a "camera [with] a 720p wide angle lens, which is much much wider than Google Glass'." Additionally, the glasses posses "more storage and a longer lasting battery than Glass," allowing Epiphany Eyewear to record video twice as long as its famous competitor.
Epiphany's glasses already have several apps and upcoming abilities - such as face recognition, gesture API (which can fly a toy drone and navigate an iPad), SoundCloud, video editing and live streaming - with more rolling out soon, Greiner says.
Google did not respond to requests seeking comment.
"Our products are simple and Google's is complicated. Ours is attainable, yet it's still aspirational," boasts Epiphany Eyewear CEO Erick Miller. "And Google's is sort of out of reach and sort of disconnected with the average consumer."
The frames are weather resistant. Though Miller claims they shouldn't be worn on deep sea dives, the glasses have survived Mount Shasta hikes and kayaking adventures.
As Greiner puts it, "Our glasses can be as comfortably worn on the ski slope... [as] on the beach, but also in the club."
Put simply, these aren't augmented reality glasses solely for millionaires with connections and those in the industry. These are augmented reality glasses for several undisclosed celebrities, musicians and athletes, and anyone willing to pay a few hundred bucks for a taste of the future.
"That's the reason we wanted to make these glasses as cool as possible, because we wanted cool people to wear them," said Miller.
While nothing screams "I promise I won't live stream me losing my virginity to you" quite like Google Glass, Epiphany's matte black frames - made of an indestructible material referred to in the industry as "plastic titanium" - look like Wayfarers. They will soon be available in different colors and other classic styles.
Simplicity of design was paramount , Miller says. The glasses feature only one embossed logo-shaped button along the side of the frames, intentionally mimicking Apple's design philosophy of just one button. A philosophy which Miller believes will ultimately make the user's interaction with the glasses less cumbersome.
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"With Google Glass, you have to swipe up and down and it's really awkward. And then you start to talk to it, but then the person you're talking to doesn't know if you're talking to them or if you're talking to your glasses," said Miller. "These are real challenges we looked at when designing our glasses, and we decided 'let's keep this as simple as possible' because simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication when it comes to designing a product."
But why should you want a pair of augmented reality glasses? Right now, there's no real need. They're a novelty item and haven't seen any real world applications - at least not yet. As Miller sees it, a bright future is ahead for his product and products like it.
"This is going to become like the future of computing," said Miller. "It's going to become something that redefines the meaning of what it means to think about things, and to remember things, and possibly really what it means to be human."
Let's be honest, here: Is this a lofty vision? Yeah, a bit. But then again, you don't create a startup poised to compete with Google without lofty visions.