It looks like Vuzix is about to beat Google to the punch in releasing Internet-enabled smart glasses that allow you do things like scan your email, use your favorite apps, and respond to updates from sources like Facebook.
The company announced its Smart Glasses M100 in November, but first demonstrated the glasses to visitors at last week’s CES show in Las Vegas. The glasses are still in development, but the company says they’ll be ready to go this summer, and will be priced “under $500.” If the company meets that deadline, it will beat Google, a formidable competitor, to market. Google is pushing its Google Glass project hard. More on that below.
Early reviews of the Vuzix are positive. The Vuzix lens, at 800 x 480 pixels, provides a “bright, clear image that was easy to focus on even though it was visible only to my right eye…it appeared about as big as the display of a four-inch phone screen held at arm’s length,” said Tom Simonite in a hands-on review for Technology Review.
And it’s not like Vuzix is totally untested. It’s been working on its line of glasses for years, having so far built similar versions for the defense industry and for industrial uses. We reported on earlier versions in 2010.
Last week, the company also announced its own developer program, so that developers can build apps designed especially for it.
The glasses are attached to your head via an earpiece (see image at right). The lens — really, just a tiny video screen — is connected to the earpiece, and wraps around in front of your eye.
The product uses the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, and is controlled via Bluetooth using three buttons on the earpiece. At CES, Vuzix wasn’t ready to show actual apps built for it (Android apps are being rewritten specifically to cater to the Vuzix’s form factor). But it did show off how you can use the earpiece buttons to browse and select regular Android apps. The current prototype also shoots 720p video, has 4GB of storage, GPS, and WiFi.