Google Glass is not dead. It is, however, in hibernation until it resurfaces under the watchful eye of Tony Fadell, the man credited with developing the iPod and making people care about thermostats with Nest. That included people at Google, who acquired Nest company last year.

The Explorer Edition of Glass was expensive and obtrusive. It's position on the face allowed the presentation of video, graphics and simple message in front of the eye. However, it also allowed hands-free photography to capture images "in the moment." There's a lot of value in that, whether it's for security professionals patrolling an area (though not at night, see below), real estate professionals checking out a new property, marketing professionals showing off a new product, or insurance professionals inspecting the scene of an accident. Such functionality can also come in handy on vacation or when simply enjoying some downtime with friends and family as they're social-media friendly beyond Google+.

Glass, though, isn't the only product to allow hands-free photography. Three social media-friendly products have done away with the LCD screen to keep casual or even continuous photography going without having to dig out your smartphone.

Narrative Clip. The tiny square Clip--the iPod shuffle of cameras--was originally sold on the promise of life-logging, that is, taking photos all day every day to document things you may have missed. Company executives described the benefits in terms of capturing a complete day's worth of images. However, its use has broadened, and the company says its customers now use it for capturing more meaningful events while letting you stay in the action. The Clip captures (lots of) 5 megapixel photos, but can't capture video, A sequel that boasts higher resolution, a wide-angle lens and Wi-Fi is on the way.

Logitech Bemo. Logitech is a company better known for its keyboard and mice, but it has a long history in webcams as well. The narrow Bemo is an interesting middle road between wearable cameras and larger devices such as the HTC Re. It includes a clip, but its video must be activated by holding down the button. Part of this may be due to the product's relatively slow Bluetooth connection back to the phone, a design that yields better battery life. The Bemo captures 8 megapixel photos and high-definition video. Its companion app offers many fun features, including the ability to add Instagram-like filters and text and even do basic vidoe.

HTC Re. The company best known for nicely designed smartphones like its flagship M8 entered the camera market with a product that looks like a miniature periscope. The Re is larger than the Bemo and lacks an integrated clip, but HTC has some accessories that allow it to be worn. In addition to video, also captures the highest-resolution photos--16 megapixels--which may well be higher than that of your smartphone, as well as a wide-angle lens. The Re is always on and ready to capture as soon it's picked up. Also, like the Bemo, it has a time-lapse mode to create a video made up of a day's worth of stills without one having to be there.

In creating a tradeoff for convenience and quick access, all of these devices lack any screen or flash, so photos and video shot in low-light may be blurry or grainy. However, since they all connect to a smartphone, they all make it easy to share what they capture on social networks.

Published on: Feb 1, 2015
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