Vuzix today announced they’ll be unveiling their latest smartglasses at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. Called Vuzix Blade, the smartglasses are more of a heads-up display akin to Google Glass than a positionally-tracked AR headset like Microsoft Hololens or the upcoming Magic Leap One, although the Blade’s styling certainly comes closer to ‘normal’ than many we’ve seen before.

The Vuzix Blade connects to either iOS or Android devices, letting you answer phone calls, view notifications, and capture video or images with the 8MP front-facing camera. Weighing in at 3 oz and using proprietary waveguide optics, the company says they’ve fit in a “sizable virtual screen and brilliant pallet of colors via a thin completely see-through lens, in a fashionable form factor.”

image courtesy Vuzix

While “fashionable” is pretty subjective, you’d probably get away with wearing them on the subway/tube/metro without getting too many sideways glances—one of the main factors behind the outlash against Google Glass users that had its part in driving Glass into the enterprise sector and out of the reach of consumers. The Blade’s design certainly isn’t any worse than wearing a backwards Kangol hat.

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The Blade comes in two developer kit versions; a ‘prosumer’ version and an enterprise-focused version, although both offer the same hardware specs and are both priced at about $2000. The company, which is asking for a $500 deposit to reserve either unit, is staying mum on launch dates, and hasn’t published hard specs yet regarding field of view (FOV) or battery life, etc.

image courtesy Vuzix

The glasses run their own Vuzix Blade OS which allows users to navigate data via simple swipes and taps, or simply use voice controls and external AI systems thanks to an integrated mic.

“What differentiates the Vuzix Blade from all existing or proposed AR smart glasses and mixed reality head mounted computers, is that it’s built for today’s user,” Paul Travers, President and CEO of Vuzix. “With a fashionable form factor, a brilliant display, and a broad range of features that allow the user to experience AR at work or play, the Vuzix Blade is the first pair of smart glasses that people would actually enjoy wearing.”

We’ll have feet on the ground at next week’s CES in Las Vegas, starting January 9th until the 13th. We hope to brings you more information on Blade and all AR/VR hardware and software descending on Sin City.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • mellott124

    Hopefully we can actually try it and it’s not in a glass case like years past. FOV will be on order of ~30 degs if it’s based on what I’ve seen before.

  • Spec

    A simple overlay display with no tracking capability. This shouldn’t be called an AR in this day and age.

  • Iain Swales

    Agreed – isn’t one of the definitions of AR that it’s 3D generated graphics registered to reality? Interesting to see that a company thinks this is a viable piece of hardware and makes me wonder by how much our imaginations are outstripping the tech’s capabilities right now. Much as I’d like to see wide FOV tracked AR in a small form factor device, maybe this is a good example of what’s actually possible right now. Also, knowing this then I feel like the main push should actually be towards making the available tech as unobtrusive as possible. These are still some fairly chunky/clunky plastic glasses.

    • Matilde Constance

      And I hate the color of the glasses!

      • trekkie

        So ?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      It’s marketed as smartglasses, not AR-glasses.. And Vuzix certainly isn’t just a company, they are in the leading market for headsup displays for the military.. Also they are the original creators of the Forte VFX-1 and were one of the only companies still creating VR glasses a while back (still have their VR920 glasses).
      Also AR is not restricted to 3d-generated graphics registered to reality.

  • Sponge Bob

    touchpad on the side of your head ???


  • Sponge Bob

    2K for what ???
    gotta be kidding

  • Mei Ling

    This time rather than having everyone on public transport looking down they’ll be looking at each other!

  • Lucidfeuer

    AR Glasses were definitely the stupidest device idea for the 2010s. The fundamental materials, lightfield and optical sciences are not even there yet.

    Instead of investing further in advancing Virtuum (as in Augmented to Virtual continuum) Headsets which is were the consumer/prosumer tech is possible, happening and necessary, I can’t believe all those companies that wasted (or laundered…) money on these glasses, besides the one doing fundamental research or industry applications, even those are bogus in any corporations or industries I’ve seen “innovation washing” money being thrown at a bunch of glasses that I can guarantee NONE of their employees use.

    • trekkie

      I am sure you voted for Bernie.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Like any sane person…even if I’m not american, which makes you a Trump (not Hillary or Stein or Johnson) voter without a doubt.

      • Laurence Nairne

        How did this come to be about politics?!

    • Laurence Nairne

      To be fair, even if the technologies you mention were available, the infrastructure is nowhere near available yet, as we don’t know how people want to use it on a low enough level to support it.

      At a fundamental level, without cloud hosted point cloud data, you can’t really drive a solid augmentation of a person’s environment without requiring their devices to pick up that data on the fly – which is just bananas. It also means you can’t ensure users of AR software have a consistent experience. Then I guess you’d need the hardware to be able to even use that data (Tango was the right idea, but too early, too costly and too niche).

      • Lucidfeuer

        That’s what I’m saying: this is too early for AR Glasses, but AR itself has to start somewhere. Tango was great but not well conceived and ended-up being vaporwared before Apple shamed them with ARKit, and yet, still not serious implementation or development, which is understandable: except for specific apps like PokemonGo, measure tool, or 3D scanning feature, AR through smartphone doesn’t make much sense…it’s made for VR headsets.

  • My thoughts are already somewhat echoed here, they seem a little low-end. It’s just for alerts, right? It’s not even AR. Maybe not completely dumb if it’s priced right. Somehow I missed the price on my first read through…. $2000??!!

    I think we’re done here. No need to mention these further. Game over, hard-pass, check please, good night Sally.

    • edge

      First gen, for most of your gripes. Please, don’t crush the realistic dreams of the rest of us that this tech will improve and come down in price.

      • What tech? It’s an alert display device. It isn’t AR or VR. There is no head tracking, no environment mapping, no desire to overlay reality. It’s just an alert system.

        • hubert

          before you state what you have stated, please delve into scientific readings and reconsider understanding of the term “augmented reality”. Because the device does not perform an environmental mapping it does not mean that the system is not an AR technology. These products are made specifically for frontline industries such as logistics for example. It seems that you have entertainment expectations where this devices had a tremendous capabilities when it comes to warehouse solutions. Make a reasoning before you post comments ” It isn’t AR or VR”.

          • Laurence Nairne

            Whilst you have a point on the flexibility of the term AR, this product is not only being aimed at Enterprise customers. The idea is that they are hoping to enter the “prosumer” market as well.

            Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is enough of a USP for that just yet, especially where it’s a HUD more than an extension of what is already possible via phone screens.

  • Vuzix makes great products for enterprise usage (e.g. warehouses). Honestly I don’t see them much useful for the consumer

  • gamechanger

    “Design certainly isn’t any worse than wearing a backwards Kangol hat”