The Vuzix Blade smart glasses are now available for $1,000. That's a pretty penny, but it should perhaps come as no surprise considering how incipient a technology augmented reality-powered wearables currently are.
Blade is one of the first commercial AR smart glasses to hit the consumer market following years spent in development, with Vuzix contemplating various iterations. The device's most recent form was unveiled back in CES 2018. What people saw at the time was a pre-production version of what consumers will now get.
The design is simple. The glasses come with a floating miniature display in the right lens of a pair of bulky sunglasses using a technology called waveguide — Vuzix likes to call it "Cobra Display Engine" — practically similar to the display projection technique found on the Magic Leap One headset, another AR project hoping to hit the mainstream market soon, albeit at a much more luxurious price.
Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses: How Does It Differ From Others?
While the impressiveness of both the Magic Leap One and Microsoft's HoloLens AR glasses hinge on their innate ability to create virtual images that blends with the real-word and can be modified in real-time by the wearer, Vuzix's glasses are different in that it relies on a smartphone instead of being a standalone AR machine, similar to Mira.
With the help of the user's handset, the Blade can project a semi-transparent screen that's more akin to a heads-up display, primarily for mirroring phone notifications and running low-power apps. In that regard, it's essentially mimicking what Google Glass once promised, albeit this time with a higher-resolution, full-color display with a wider field of view. Also, the Blade, which looks like any everyday pair of glasses, is arguably better designed than Google's now-shelved project, and that should bode well for its potential to be the first mass-adopted AR wearable.
How The Vuzix Blade Handles Augmented Reality
Right now, it's really hard to classify the Blade as true AR glasses considering how it handles the technology doesn't seem to be authentically AR. Down the line, however, third-party app developers may use the visual feed from the glasses to augment what the user sees. As of now, there's no bombastic AR demo taking place, but more features could arrive eventually. That's of course theoretical. The tricky thing is that a lot of people must first purchase the Blade before developers are encouraged to develop some apps for it. However, why would people buy a device whose apps ecosystem is thin? It's a catch-22 situation, most certainly.
In any case, Vuzix is confident people will want the consumer version of the Blade. While the price might be steep at $1,000, the company says there are a lot of new benefits, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. Support for video-streaming services are also planned, but Vuzix says it can't disclose which ones at the moment.
The Vuzix Blade AR smart glasses are up for orders on the company's website.