Google called the early adopters of their augmented reality Google Glass headsets ‘explorers’ and pretty much all of those ‘explorers’ now keep their headsets gathering dust in a box somewhere, a very expensive and disappointing purchase that they no longer use. So, the big question has to be: will the new AR glasses from Vuzix suffer the same fate? Let’s take a look at what the Vuzix glasses will offer.
Previous attempts like the Google Glass was interesting, but there was no way it was ever going to look cool. The Vuzix Blades look like a pair of black sunglasses, certainly at first glance anyway. They are a little chunkier but not so much so that you’d do a double take. This is a smart move on the part of Vuzix, Apple products sell because they look cool, ok so there’s a whole bunch of other reasons why they sell, but never underestimate the power of the look.
Concerns about privacy
There was a strong negative reaction to the fact that Google Glass featured a camera and at the time as this was considered an invasion of privacy. Casinos and cinemas barred them, and even a bar barred them. With the ubiquity of smart phones, is that guy looking at his phone or is he filming you, perhaps we have become more complacent about this issue. The makers of Blades will certainly be hoping so. The glasses feature an 8mp front facing camera that is capable of recording full HD videos and which can be controlled via touchpad gestures. That’s just the half of it though. Dubai based firm NNTC have provided facial recognition software, which will enable the glasses to be used by security companies and law enforcement agencies. Users will be able to scan faces in a crowd and compare them with a database of a million images. Notification of a positive match is sent to the glasses’ see through display, projected in front of the right lens. The technology can identify an individual in seconds as well as identifying age, gender and even emotions.
One of the key criticisms of previous attempts by companies is that they’d often have little practical use. Not only can the Vuzix Blades be paired with your smartphone, all notifications being projected in full color, but it is also paired with the Amazon Alexa, which can be directed via an integrated microphone. You can make calls, send texts, check your schedule, play music and watch videos. You can even fit your Blades with prescription lenses in a synthesis of traditional optical technology and AR.
What the Vuzix blades represent are a fusion of AR technology and the most successful selling accessory in the world: sunglasses. With global sales of $132 billion to spur them on, sunglass manufacturers continue to produce increasingly technically sophisticated glasses. Ray-Ban offer different technology lenses on their popular styles including the Round Metal, with smart lens coatings to provide glare reduction. Oakley have their new Prizm lenses and Maui Jim have introduced Polarized Plus2 lenses both of which enhance color, contrast and detail. Clearly, our sunglasses won’t simply be sunglasses for much longer.