Cameras mounted on eyeglasses historically have been flops.
Google Glass was too expensive; Snap's Spectacles too elusive.
And both were, well, hideous.
Those failings aren't lost on Brendan Sheil, the CEO of PogoTec , which last month launched a lipstick-sized camera that can snap on to the frame of any glasses.
Sheil, in an interview with the Tribune-Review, said Google Glass and Snap showed that fashion trumps function, especially when talking about technology that we wear.
"You already love the fashionable eyewear that you use," Sheil said in an interview with the Tribune-Review. "With PogoCam, you don't have to do anything to put a camera on those glasses."
Sheil gave me a PogoCam to try, and while the camera is certainly more subtle than past products, I couldn't figure out why we need this.
I can't fathom why we need camera's bolted to our heads, especially when we all have cameras on the smartphones in our pockets, purses and in front of our faces too often.
PogoCam isn't sneaky — it sticks out from the side of your glasses and features a red light to indicate when it's recording — so its use as a spy camera is limited, which is probably good considering the potential legal problems a spy camera presents. The still-camera function isn't lightning fast, so capturing something amazing that happens in a split second in front of you is difficult. And it struggles in low light. The video function is handy but, because the videos can be only up to 30 seconds, there is a lot you could miss.
It is handy for taking pictures of the road ahead of you while driving.
A photo from the road using PogoCam.
But Sheil made a compelling case. Sheil is a single father of four. Capturing photos and videos of his kids on his smartphone wasn't cutting it.
"The moments I would miss while I was searching for my phone. The moments I would miss fumbling. The moments I would miss looking through the view finder," Sheil said. "I just hated looking through a phone and looking through a viewfinder."
Sheil said PogoCam helps him live in the moment.
Aside from my lingering question of why, the technology behind the camera is sound and operation is easy. Touch the top button to take a photo. Touch the bottom button to start a video. The cadence of beeps signaling what is going on took a little getting used to.
The camera captures 5 megapixel photos and takes 30-second videos in 720p high definition. It can take up to 100 photos or six videos on a single charge.
The camera comes with its own case, which is a little larger than the average car key fob. The case, when fully charged, can charge the camera up to three times and has enough storage to hold up to 16,000 photos or 180 thirty-second videos. The case can plug into a USB port for quick transfer or send the photos to your phone, laptop or other device over Bluetooth using an app. An app for Android phones is already out. The iPhone app is awaiting approval from Apple.
Sheil admitted that the "gen 1" camera is deficient and work has already started on an updated design due out next year.
But PogoTec isn't in the camera business, Sheil said. PogoTec is in the eyewear business, or rather, in the business of attaching devices to glasses.
"We believe there is no bigger medium than eyewear," Sheil said, noting that more than 750 million pairs of glasses are sold each year.
The company announced in November that it had received a patent on its PogoTrack technology, a subtle, metal strip embedded into the temples of glasses and sunglasses that make snapping on a PogoCam or other devices, like an LED light, simple. PogoTec has licensed PogoTrack to three major eyewear manufacturers and expects more in 2018.
PogoTec is offering a free pair of PogoTrack sunglasses when you purchase a PogoCam for $149 on its website.
The patent for the PogoLoop, the rubber band-secured mount designed to slide over the temples of a pair of glasses, should be issued next month, Sheil said.
But Sheil isn't stopping there. PogoTec is going public next month, and the company's next big push will be technology for augmented reality. There are already 31 patents in the works for PogoTec augmented reality technology, Sheil said.
Augmented reality won't be confined to smartphones, Sheil said. Glasses will play a huge role.
For now, I'll keep playing with PogoCam. There have got to be better photos and videos out there.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected], 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.
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