The future of wearables will take a prominent place on our faces, at least if Intel has anything to say about it. And the key to success seems to be avoiding looking or feeling like Google Glass.
Intel recently gave The Verge an exclusive look at its Vaunt smart glasses. The Bluetooth-enabled augmented-reality prototype is compatible with both Android and iOS and look positively ordinary, which considering past smart glasses attempts is a great thing.
When Google Glass debuted back in 2013, it effectively gave the smart glasses industry a black eye due to privacy concerns from the integrated camera. And the Google Ambassadors dubbed Glassholes for their boorish and headline-grabbing misbehavior didn't help the device's cause. Intel hopes to avoid all the ill will and bad press, by stripping away the camera and other offending parts of Glass.
Instead, you get a pair of Buddy-Holly-esque specs that projects images onto your retina via laser. In its current iteration, the heads-up display is designed to deliver notifications and directions. And according to Intel, the laser is at the bottom range of a class one laser, which is considered safe for all uses. Since the laser is firing directly into the back of your eye, the 400 x 150 pixel image is always in focus whether you have 20/20 vision or not -- but not without getting properly measured to wear Vaunt.
According to The Verge, to get those crystal-clear images, you have to get fitted via the standard pupil measurements used for fitting regular old glasses. But once everything is running, the small display sits inside of your peripheral vision as an unobtrusive display. When you want to check for new notifications, you look at the display. The rest of the time, it's an out-of-sight, out of mind type of interaction. It's a far and welcome step away from Google's look-at-me approach.
Other companies are making a run at the AR glass market this year, including the Vuzix Smart Blade. Those glasses are powered by Android and do include a camera, as well as a touchpad for navigation. Intel isn't including a touchpad; intstead, you'll use head gestures to interact with notifications. The Smart Blade also stand out because they'll have Alexa integrated.
Intel has yet to announce many details about the Vaunt such as processor, storage, launch date and pricing. However, the Vaunt smart glasses look like a promising glimpse into the future of augmented reality and smart glasses.