April 19, 2024
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At CES Vuzix a New York-based augmented reality and smart glasses company announced that it is now starting to take orders for its Blade AR glasses.

The device was unveiled in its most recent form Vuzix has been working on this technology for years, in various capacities at CES 2018. We covered that device, a preproduction version of what will now ship to consumers, as a solid, though clearly first-generation version, of what Google Glass once promised.

The glasses essentially float a miniature display in the right lens of a pair of bulky sunglasses using what’s known as wave guide technology, which is effectively the same type of display projection technique that’s used in the Magic Leap One headset. Companies tend to dress up the name; Magic Leap calls its wave guide package a photonics chip, while Vuzix refers to its own as the Cobra Display Engine.

Now the Blade is much more focused on being an accessory to a phone instead of a full-fledged and immersive AR device. It projects a semi-transparent and much smaller rectangular screen that’s more of a heads-up display for mirroring phone notifications and running low-key apps. It is essentially doing what Google Glass once did, but with a higher-resolution, full-color display that has a more generous field of view.

Also Vuzix and potential third-party app developers can decide to use the visual feed from the glasses to augment what the user is seeing. Right now, there’s no concrete AR taking place, but down the line, there certainly could be some features added like facial recognition or augmentation of the live camera feed for the device’s existing photo and video capabilities.

Vuzix has been shipping developer units for the past 12 months, but now it says it has a consumer version ready for sale. The price is steep at $999.99. But the company says there’s a number of new benefits, including support for Google Assistant in addition to Amazon’s Alexa. It’s also working with some streaming video providers that it cannot disclose at the moment to bring on-demand video to the glasses, though long-term TV or movie viewing sessions on the device aren’t likely going to be how one uses the Blade primarily.

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