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Crowdsourcing Innovation: Francesco Giartosio, CEO of GlassUp

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour with something new to offer. Is this a business of the future?

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 Name:  Francesco Giartosio

 Job title:  Founder & CEO

 Organisation: GlassUp                

 Location: Modena/Venice, Italy                          

Product: GlassUp

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What it does & How it works:

They’re eyeglasses that show the user messages that appear in front of him.  They’re made of a frame, an electronic circuit, an optical system, and the apps that run on them.  They must be connected to a smartphone, from which they receive the messages via bluetooth.

What makes it special:

The most important aspect is the patented technology, that displays the messages overimposed on reality, instead of on a separate screen.  This makes a huge difference in the comfort of use.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

My background, of all things, is administrative!  But I’m passionate about man to machine interaction, so I try to imagine ways to automate our daily life.

Why Indiegogo?

Because, after we had done everything that was needed to go on Kickstarter (US company, bank account, tax number, Amazon account, US resident, etc.), it came out that Kickstarter had a new policy and did not allow the Eyewear category (and yet a competitor of ours, Meta, was running on the platform).

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

Sure, it allows inventors to find the money they need.  In particular, Rewards Crowdfunding makes it easier than distributing equity.

Reactions on IGG so far? 

Huge, also thanks to an effective press release.  We are over 60k, and we’ve had enormous support.

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What’s been the hardest part of developing GlassUp?

The optical system is the key and by far the hardest part, actually at the beginning we did not know at all if it was feasible.  We have had to invent various technical innovations, and now we believe our IP is very valuable, and difficult to replicate.

Are you worried about a potential lack of apps for the GlassUp? 

No.  Surely we can not compete with Google, but we have already almost a thousand developers asking access to our APIs (and we’re not letting them in, because we don’t have the human resources to cope!  What a waste.)  We are also studying a multi-pronged strategy.

Google Glass is obviously your biggest rival product, how do you plan to compete? 

We’ll try to compete on the comfort of use, and on the appearance of normal glasses (and perhaps on price, this depends also on Google).  But really we count on the fact that there are so many niches and such a high demand, that there will always be a place where we can be successful if everything else fails.  In addition, consider that many very important players are showing interest for this field, so that presents to us very possible exit opportunities.

Business Insider says you had some legal trouble with Google over the name, has this been fixed? 

No.  We will have to ask a lawyer (that we’re currently selecting) to write our position, and then the trademarks office will decide.  We have chosen to resist (Google had suggested that we just changed our name and saved time), because we find it very unfair that we can’t use the word Glass for our eyeglass (that Google has copied from Steve Mann’s Glass Generation 1, 2, 3, ... for instance, see EyeTap in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality;) but really we all have copied from the English dictionary.

Possible business use for the product? 

Countless.  We receive some two requests per day from businesses.  Mainly warehousing, maintenance, fairs, but also transportation, museums, fitness, firefighters, helicopters, surgery, and so many more.

Aims for the future? 

We’ve understood we’ll be a development company, we have to set our priorities among all the possible lines of expansion.

 

 

 

 

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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