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Circuit Breaker

PogoCam is a unique, modular take on camera glasses

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Face: the final frontier of wearable tech?

PogoTec

Camera glasses aren’t a new idea, but Spectacles — the camera-equipped sunglasses from the company that made Snapchat — are the kind of product that can open the floodgates. One of the first ideas through those gates is being announced today from a small company called PogoTec. But instead of making glasses with a camera inside, PogoTec has gone a different, modular route.

The company wants to replace the round support wire in the arms (or “temples”) of glasses with a flat one, magnetize it, and then cut away part of the surrounding plastic to expose the metal. They call this design “PogoTrack,” and the company says it has partnered with “a number of glasses frame companies” to incorporate the idea into their products.

PogoTec won’t say who those partners are yet, but Richard Clompus, the company’s vice president of communications, showed off about 30 different styles during a short briefing last week. The whole point of this idea is that you’ll be able to attach any one of a suite of PogoTec products to a pair of glasses without being limited on design, or being left out in the cold if you wear prescription lenses. And the first product PogoTec plans to make for these glasses is, of course, a camera.

PogoTec

The $129 camera, called PogoCam, is a tiny self-powered unit smaller than a tube of lipstick. It has its own metal strip that magnetically attaches to any pair of glasses with PogoTrack. The resulting package isn’t as seamless as Spectacles, but it’s also not quite as alien (or alienating) as Google Glass.

The biggest benefit of this kind of design is that you can easily remove the small camera if you’re in a place or situation where people would feel uncomfortable being recorded or photographed. And when you don’t want or need to use the camera, you’re left with glasses that look almost just like any other “normal” pair.

But the size and portability also has big drawbacks. For one, there’s only so much it will be capable of storing — PogoCam taps out after 100 photos or 12 10-second 720p video clips. It also has a 5-megapixel sensor, small by today’s standards. And unlike Spectacles, there’s no wireless file transferring — you’ll have to take the camera off the glasses and snap them into a small case that plugs into your laptop. (Clompus says there will eventually be a Bluetooth-enabled case.)

PogoTec

PogoTec will be showing off working versions of PogoCam and announcing more about the project at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, with the aim of releasing everything in March or April. And the camera is just the first idea for PogoTrack — more will be coming, according to Clompus.

“Glasses are the oldest wearable platform, wearable device. They go back 700 years,” he says. “We wanted to create a platform so we could put electronic wearables around this neighborhood of vision, speech, and hearing, and not have them detract from the fashion.”

Thousands of people have spent the last month chasing a vending machine around the country and lining up for hours at a pop-up store in New York in order to buy Spectacles. PogoTec’s take on the idea is not nearly as sexy, and the technology is limited. But if the company’s ties to the eyewear industry run as deep as it promises, PogoTec has a chance to be the kind of brand that could be pushing the idea of camera glasses (and other face-based technology) in places like your local CVS.


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