While Google Glass might be the darling of the augmented reality wearable market, other companies like Vuzix and Epson have had skin in the game for much longer than the folks in Mountain View. One such firm to have caught the AR bug early is Optinvent, which debuted an early version of its ClearVu head-mounted display way back in 2009. Fast forward to 2013, and Optinvent is ready to move on to the final production stage of what it's now calling the Ora, which it hopes will give Google Glass a run for its money, not just with superior optics but a softer blow to the wallet as well. We had a chance to sit down with CEO Kayvan Mirza at the Glazed conference in San Francisco, where we learned more about the Ora and had a chance to try it on ourselves.
One of the first things Mirza told us was that the Ora offers "true AR," which overlays the entire display in front of your eyes much like a heads-up display unit. This is unlike Glass, which he says offers more of a "companion display" where you have to look up to view it. Don't be concerned about the Ora completely blocking your sight however, as it has a very unique feature we've yet to see in wearable optics. It's called Flip-Vu, and it lets you pivot the display downward into what's called dashboard or glance mode so that it's now more of a companion display rather than one that dominates your entire field of vision (You can see a demo video of this after the break). Mirza says glancing downward is a much more natural position than looking up, as we tend to look down at our phones and other devices anyway.