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Ion Glasses offer a discrete first step into wearables

In a world where wearable devices are just emerging, albeit rapidly, is it too soon to start thinking about products that feel a little less intrusive?

Ion Glasses co-founder Santiago Ambit doesn’t think so. Ion’s Ray Ban-like glasses limit notifications to a small light that pulses in the frame when a text, calendar warning or other standard alert pops up on the wearer’s phone.


“Society is not prepared to wear (wearables like Google Glass),” Ambit said. “I think we need two or more years to wear these kinds of things. If you go to a meeting with your friends, all of your friends are messaging … with other people. It’s very frustrating. If the mobile phone is on your eyes, all the relationships change.”

Ion Glasses co-founder Santiago Ambit
Ion Glasses co-founder Santiago Ambit

The glasses are meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. The light, which can glow different colors depending on how you customize it in Ion’s companion app, is only visible to the wearer. A demo pair Ambit brought to San Francisco looked and felt like any pair of knock-off Ray Bans, save for being slightly heavier and thicker in the temple (the part that goes over your ears).

Ambit said the final version will be made from titanium plastic, which will make it significantly lighter. Ion also recently added Mac Funamizu to its team. Funamizu is an award winning designer who will influence future iterations of the glasses.

Ion Glasses and app

The glasses also come with buttons to control things like music or volume. They are equipped with radar, which can alert you if you leave your glasses or smartphone behind.

Ambit said the materials and simplicity in design have allowed them to keep the price low. On IndieGoGo, the glasses model is going for $79. The sunglasses version is $99.

“We try not to fight with Google or other smartglasses,” Ambit said. “We try to fight with in a most ambitious way: We try to fight with normal glasses. The idea is one person who needs one sunglasses or one regular prescription glasses, when these are at the shop, this person needs to make one decision: Buy glasses with a logo that costs more … or buy our glasses. It’s the same style, it’s the same weight, it’s the same type of material, but our glasses have technology inside.”

Ion Glasses will be available on IndieGoGo through November 16. The campaign is about halfway to meeting its goal of $60,000, but the glasses will go out to backers whether that number is met or not. They are scheduled to ship in February 2014.

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6 Responses to “Ion Glasses offer a discrete first step into wearables”

  1. Sofia Yuan

    Wearable developers, technologists, designers, telecom and hardware providers are set to attend Wearable Computing Conference 2013 in New York next November 7, the biggest forum on wearable technologies on the East Coast.

  2. Instead of flashing notifications across your vision, the glasses flash a small light to indicate different types of messages have arrived. The glasses are meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. The light, which can glow different colors depending on how you customize it in Ion’s companion app, is only visible to the wearer.

  3. Not much functionality there, as oppose to the vibrate function on the phone.
    I think it would be more useful to integrate some sensors in the frame (behind the ear should be a good enough place to monitor temps for example).
    A mic might help too and speakers.
    Discrete is not a bad thing unless functionality is too discrete.
    For something just with this functionality a sticker would be way cooler ,cheaper and offer the flexibility to attach it to any pair of glasses. Ofc a start-up is likely to lack he resources to do a sticker small enough.- someone should do that , a tiny 15$ sticker that puts a notification LED on anything.