Gadgets

Google Glass competitor ships 50K devices, takes Intel investment, hints at Apple connection

Image Credit: Recon

Google Glass competitor Recon, which sells the Recon Jet heads-up display and bills itself as the Google Glass for athletes and professionals, has secured an investment from Intel Capital.

In perhaps bigger news, the company announced that it has already shipped 50,000 units worldwide of its Snow model, designed for skiers.

That’s huge — likely many multiples of what Google has shipped of Glass, which is currently only available to a few thousand Glass Explorers for a fairly staggering $1,500. In a direct shot across the bow of Google Glass, the company says it offers “the world’s most advanced wearable computer.” Recon Jet sells for $599, but the company announced today it would be taking $100 off “to celebrate our Intel Capital partnership.”

Recon Jet_WhiteAnd that might not be the most interesting part.

Besides the mere fact of the investment — and the fact that Intel is investing in wearables and Google Glass competitors — there’s a little hint of an Apple connection in the company’s press release.

“We have spent the last five years leading the heads-up display category in the consumer space,” CEO Dan Eisenhardt said. “In fact, Recon has shipped more than 50,000 heads-up displays worldwide, including a very successful campaign in Apple retail stores.”

Clearly, Apple and Google are major rivals as well as major partners, and Eisenhardt’s comment shows that at minimum, Apple is working to expand the market for heads-up, connected, wearable displays beyond Google Glass, which gets the lion’s share of the press for wearables. The question is, however, whether Apple, which has not yet released any wearable products such as the rumored iWatch but has expressed some level degree of interest in Google Glass – at least in “certain vertical markets” — might want any more skin in this game.

Data from the Recon Jet heads-up display

Above: Data from the Recon Jet heads-up display.

Image Credit: Recon

Clearly, the wearable computing market is heating up.

Recon Jet is a 28-gram device with equal weight distribution on both sides, a dual-core 1 GHz processor, Wi-Fi, ANT+ for device communications, Bluetooth, GPS, an HD camera and an HD display, and many sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, magnetometer, and thermometer.

The company said it would be shipping a new version early next year.

Designed for high-level athletes or professionals such as doctors who need heads-up information without using their hands, Recon Jet is rugged and works in rain or snow, even with gloves on. That’s important, and it’s something that Google will need to work on, as Glass is notoriously easy to damage.

“Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that re-defines how we use and interact with information,” said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the new devices group at the Intel Corporation. “In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space.”

Neither Recon nor Intel released the terms of the investment.


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