This year’s CES finally delivers the goods. Having went through many unfulfilled CES promises down the years, we were naturally a little laid back while still hoping for the best. As it turns out, we couldn’t have hoped for better. Vuzix Blade AR glasses are hitting sales for the not-so-modest price of $999 and are for now available via orders only.
Consumer Electronics Show close, we have gracefully sneaked that Vuzix is the company to look out for. And we were not wrong. After years of development and, we suspect, waiting for the market to shape up, the company is coming out with its Vuzix Blade AR eyewear. Blade is now a semi-unique offering, significantly different from the likes of HoloLens and Magic Leap. Ultimately, the device has one agenda, and that is to deliver on the promises Google Glass could not.
Unlike the bulkier Augmented Reality compatriots, Vuzix Blade AR glasses aim for the middle ground between looks and functionality. By no means stylish as Focals, they are hell of a lot more ‘wearable’ than HoloLens. Still, the chunky black plastic around could do some trimming in the future. Blade glasses operate through waveguide optics, a see-through AR display in the right lens. They are powered by quad-core ARM processor, run full-color display, have a decent 8Mpix camera, and utilize both iOS and Android systems.
It is nice to have another AR device out there, but Vuzix Blade AR is not satisfied by being just another one. It is meant to be ‘the’ device that would stomp the noted over-reliance on our smartphones. Connecting via Bluetooth, Blade glasses receive notifications and run various apps and thus keep our phones snugly rested inside the pocket. Blade aims for a particular chunk of market that Google Glass once busied itself with, before turning well away. It is a communication accessory essentially, meant to be worn in public; one that rivals (and beats) smart watches more than real-deal clunky Augmented Reality devices.
That is not to say it is limited in terms of AR. Not in the least. Vuzix Blade AR just come out and developers didn’t have enough time to tinker with it, but the system itself is more than ripe for AR goodness. The Vuzix very own Cobra Display Engine coupled with the slew of controlling options (touchpad, voice control) can yield much in terms of Augmented Reality objects. In fact, Vuzix is boasting of welcoming 400 developers a month who contribute on the Blade project. The interested parties are encouraged by various video demos from Vuzix showcasing the Blade 3D simulation potential.
To prove they are serious about Vuzix Blade AR glasses consumer product launch, the company included the support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. There is also a hint dropped that the glasses will benefit from video streaming option. Having these is nice, but we ought not forget the raison d’ etre for Blade or any future similar device – to usher in the future of merged realities reality. Measured in that light, Blade glasses are a nice, albeit a little expensive first generation product.