Japanese serial entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi demonstrated Telepathy One earlier this week, a headset developed in Japan and stepping into the same space as Google Glass.
Like Google Glass, Telepathy One is a wearable computing device with a small display that delivers information to a single eye, and a camera that takes photos and video. Unlike Google Glass, it wraps around the back of a person’s head from the right eye to the left ear, held in place with its built-in earbuds, which will deliver the audio, which was not yet functional at the time of the press conference. Telepathy One also has an optically projected screen that sits in front of the eye of the wearer that’s so small, it’s almost invisible, and a small microphone is mounted on the opposite side. A cell phone app controlled by a second person captures the images that the wearer sees in the device’s tiny screen, so that the two can share the experience. The team said the device will also be able to take photos or videos from the headset and stream those images to the partner’s cell phone app, iPad or computer. But the prototype didn’t have that functionality yet, either.
Unlike Google Glass, Telepathy One looks damn cool. Then again, it’s the difference between Japanese design, and Silicon Valley Geek-Chic, which, as we know, is basically something of an oxymoron.
“Using a smartphone takes too long,” said Iguchi, speaking mostly through a translator, “You pull out the device and start an app. It involves 12 different steps at least just to share photos with your friends, I want to eliminate these steps as much as possible. Get it down to one. Or zero. This is a social communications device and people want to connect with each other, always, whether they’re happy, sad, hungy. With a microcamera and microprojection, you’re always on standby.”
And ready to shoot and share.
Privacy issues, which Google Glass will have to address as well, also came up.
Iguchi, a smartphone app developer, explained that he is a former philosophy student who also studied programming.
“My brain was changed,” he said in broken English. “Everything looked like the Matrix.”
Which might explain his manga camera, an app that takes a photo image of anything, from a person to scenery, and turns it into a cool, black and white animated comic. Available for iPhone and Android, the free app reached over a million downloads within a week of its release.
Although he’s still in discussions with manufacturers, Iguchi is hopeful that Telepathy One will be commercially available by the end of the year, and at a lower price point than the nearly $1500 Google Glass. We say ‘hope,’ as what we saw demonstrated felt more like an early prototype. Despite the fact that its optimistic creator was already talking about the added functionality that will be available in Telepathy Two, Telepathy One, in its present form, felt like something that exists, so far, mostly in Iguchi’s mind’s eye.