“Nobody wants to look like they just stepped off the Starship Enterprise,” Paul Travers, president of AR glasses maker Vuzix, told me.
He’s being polite here, so I’ll say what he won’t say: It’s hard to wear current VR and AR headsets for more than an hour. They are heavy! Microsoft Hololens Really neat, but weighs a pound and a half and wears a lot of headgear.and magic leap Cool indeed, but they look weird when you’re wearing them.
Vuzix has the answer.exist CES 2023The company unveiled its new Ultralite AR glasses, plain-looking plastic frames with a tiny projector in one frame and a tiny battery and Bluetooth radio in the other. Combine that with Vuzix’s waveguide (a layer in the glasses that bends the projector’s light into your line of sight), and you have ordinary glasses with extraordinary capabilities.
I put on the Vuzix Ultralite and saw a line of green text in the corner of the right lens, the kind you see on old mainframe computers from the movie Wargames. It’s crisp, legible, and bright as day. Here’s a live transcription of what another Vuzix employee said; the device is equally adept at showing directions, with arrows indicating where you should be going, workout status, text messages, and more.
To be clear, this is not full color video at 30 fps. The technology also exists, from an Israeli company called Lumus. But the company told me it’s at least two years away, and will likely be in monocular applications when it arrives due to cost. (Meaning one lens for your glasses, but if you like a monocle I think they can make one.)
But the Vuzix Ultralite is here today, and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. It doesn’t have a bulky battery pack (or wires for the batteries you keep in your pocket), as it works directly with your phone thanks to a simple Bluetooth connection. It doesn’t stream a lot of video over that connection, so there’s no need for that cable. It’s just an ordinary-looking pair of glasses that harnesses the power of your phone.
“This phone has amazing features,” Travers noted. Why try to reproduce it? “Voice translation, for example. You might speak French, and I put on my glasses and it’s all English.” With a microphone plugged into the lens, you can also fully interact with your phone.
“We’ve been doing this for 26 years,” Travers told me. His company has been making waveguides and manufacturing them at a factory in Rochester, New York, USA. “In the past, the Special Forces guys asked us, ‘Can you make an Oakley-style sunglass with a computer in it?’ Because we wanted it, and we called it the Oakley Gaze. If you could do it, half the U.S. military would Buying these things … so that’s always been our focus.”
The U.S. government recently awarded Microsoft a $500 million Hololens contract. At the same time, this exists. Maybe the government should stick with it?
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