Set to retail for under $500, Vuzix's M100 Smart Glasses will officially launch for summer 2013, a year before Google's much-heralded Project Glass augmented reality headsets.
The glasses connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and combine a small screen that sits in front of one eye with an earpiece and controller that features three buttons. The experience of using the screen has been likened to holding a 4-inch screen smartphone at arm's length, and its makers say the headset is designed to support and augment a smartphone's functions, not to replace a traditional handset. A user can make phone calls, see photos and read emails and can access standard Android apps, either via a controller app on their smartphone or by using the buttons on the headset to launch apps on the screen. It can also record video, take photos, and has 8GB of in-built storage. What's more, apps specifically designed for the headset are currently in development.
Interest in this form of Augmented Reality (AR) has been heightened by Google and its Project Glass smart glasses. And although they have received the lion's share of media attention since they were first demonstrated at the beginning of 2012, the headsets are yet to be delivered to the app development community ahead of their official 2014 launch. Though Google's glasses offer many of the same features as Vuzix's headset, Google is concentrating on integrating cloud connectivity so that the headsets will eventually be able to do away with a supporting smartphone and work as a standalone product.
However, in a recent interview with IEEE Spectrum, Babak Parviz, head of the Google Glass project admitted that the headset's final features were still yet to be decided and described the project as being in flux, suggesting to many that AR headsets in general and Google's in particular are a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.