Intel has launched Vaunt smartglasses which look just like regular prescription eyeglasses. Vaunt makes use of a laser located at the right side to project images on a holographic reflector which is then reflected onto the eye of the user. The chipmaker has assured users that class one lasers are being employed and that the smartglasses are therefore safe.
To connect to a smartphone Intel’s smartglasses use Bluetooth while gestures and movements are detected by motion sensors. Though Vaunt currently doesn’t have a microphone, future models could have them thus allowing the use of voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.
According to various reviews, Vaunt smartglasses are socially acceptable as they are not as socially awkward and creepy – the criticisms that were levelled against Google Glass. This has been achieved through intentionally avoiding having physical buttons, a camera, protruding arms or a glowing screen on the glasses as was the case with Google’s smartglasses. The online search giant introduced Google Glass in 2014 but discontinued them two years later.
“We really believe that it can’t have any social cost. So if it’s weird, if you look geeky, if you’re tapping and fiddling — then we’ve lost,” said the head of products at Intel’s New Devices Group, Itai Vonshak.
Besides making wearers look awkward, Google Glass was also considered pricey as a pair cost $1,500. Last year a second-generation version of Google Glass was unveiled but was aimed at enterprise users. Despite improvements such as faster chips and longer battery life, the smartglasses still had the social awkwardness about them.
Other tech firms have also tried to introduce smartglasses with little or no success. This includes Sony which unveiled SmartEyeglass aimed at enterprise users as well. These glasses were not only bulkier compared to Google Glass but had also to be tethered to a controller. Disappearing-message firm Snap also ventured into making smartglasses two years ago when it introduced Spectacles. The device cost $130 and was capable of sending short video clips to Snapchat. Spectacles didn’t succeed as had been anticipated and Snap ended up writing down $40 million.
Despite the challenges that smartglasses face Intel could succeed largely due to the fact that Vaunt are glasses that regular people, and not just geeks, would want to wear. Intel could also decide to license its technology to other firms. The Vaunt prototypes were manufactured by Quanta Computer, a device maker based in Taiwan.