The concept behind the Google Glass was really inventive for its time. But the Glass itself was kind of awkward looking and hard to use. That said, the technology was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. I mean, it was an optical head-mounted display. Ultimately, this is the kind of thing that we want when it comes to wearables, but Google Glass wasn’t the answer. The thing that I find troublesome is that after its debut, Google seemed to have forgotten about the technology. The only thing that remains are enterprising-only models focused more on assisting business complete specialized tasks.
But because of the Google Glass, we now have something else to look forward to, and even analyze. It’s taken awhile to get here though, but the fact that we have it means that someone else has thought about the technology. Enter the Vuzix Blade. The Vuzix Blade sports a tiny DLP projector that spits images onto its full-color see-through display. The Blade uses waveguide optics to project a tiny display onto the right lens of some surprisingly normal-looking glasses. In addition to the Blade’s innovative display, it also has everything it needs to function as a standalone wearable, complete with a built-in CPU running a customized version of Android, 8-MP camera, 4GB of storage and a microSD card slot, wi-fi, and a mic and touchpad for controlling the device.
That said, the Blade isn’t just a reiterated version of the Google Glass. Vuzix has learned some important things about what you have to do to make the concept of smart glasses easier to accept. Unlike the Google Glass, the Blade is comfortable, easy to use and most importantly – something that doesn’t look ridiculous or clunky or even awkward. Which is helpful as they want to sell these devices!
The Blade doesn’t look too much different from a regular pair of glasses, although they are tinted, which indicates that these are more than a pair of knockoff sunglasses. But when you get close, you will notice the light being sent out from one corner of the glass, and the extra thickness of the sides of the bridge and its frame. It’s super easy to control – a two finger swipe on the touchpad that’s built into the right side of the glasses, takes you to the home screen. A one finger swipe advances you through UI, with a single tap for making selections.
From there, you can pair the Blade with your phone, which makes it easy to check your messages, view directions or even take first-person photos or videos, using either the touchpad or voice commands. But that’s not all because, in addition to Vuzix’s homemade smartphone companion app, the Blade also sports built-in Alexa integration. So if you want to ask about the weather without pulling out your phone? No problem. How about controlling smart home devices like lights or your thermostat? That’s easy too.
Ok, so here’s the crazy part. The glasses will set you back $1000. But the important part about this is that these glasses are becoming more mainstream. Which means, they will become more affordable as more designers create their own versions. I think that this is a great step forward for this kind of wearable technology and I look forward to seeing what’s next.