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‘Smart’ sunglasses from Vuzix work with Android and iOS, will debut at CES

Vuzix Blade™ Augmented Reality Smartglasses
Vuzix will unveil its latest headset supporting augmented reality (AR) during the
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Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. As a producer of compatible head-mounted displays for the technology, the company is no novice in the AR market. But the product hitting Vuzix’s booth during the show, the Vuzix Blade AR Smart Glasses, will apparently be more mainstream, and may remind attendees of a controversial project still brewing under Google’s roof: Google Glass.

At first glance, the Vuzix Blade AR Smart Glasses resemble your standard pair of sunglasses. But underneath the cool exterior is most everything we remember in Google Glass — the ability to project information in your field of view, internet connectivity, and a built-in camera for capturing images and video. You won’t need a smartphone glued to your face — all your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter notifications are piped into your field of view.

“Directions, menus, weather, events, stocks, video conferencing, sports updates, social feeds, bio-metrics, and more, right in front of you, literally,” the company said in a statement. “AR smart glasses that right out of the box provide hands-free access to all the alerts from your phone, while allowing you to leave your phone in your pocket.”

Here’s what we know about the Blade AR Smart Glasses:

Displays: 2x Cobra II digital light processing displays
Full-color AR overlays
Transparent, photochromic
Prescription inserts are available
Multiple lens color choice
Standard UV protection
Processor: Quad-core ARM-based chip
Memory: Unknown
Storage: Unknown
Camera: 8MP supporting 1080p video
Connectivity: Wireless AC
Ports: 1x Micro SD
1x Micro USB (audio, recharging)
Input: Noise-canceling microphones (voice input)
Touchpad with gesture support (right arm)
Head motion tracking sensors
Output: Dual haptic feedback
Batteries: Internal LiPo rechargable
OS: Android
Weight: Less than 3 ounces
Cost: Final product — unknown
Developer kit — $495 deposit
Availability: Unknown

The Blade AR Smart Glasses were originally designed for enterprise use as an attractive alternative to the company’s more expensive (and more robotic-looking) M100 and M300 models. The version hitting store shelves appears to be identical hardware-wise, but its ecosystem will focus on social platforms and mainstream services rather than enterprise-focused applications.

“For consumers, the Vuzix Blade is the perfect companion to your Android or iOS smartphone, allowing users to always be connected, stay informed, and never miss a photo shot,” the company said. “The Vuzix Blade’s companion app will allow users to seamlessly pair their Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses to their smartphone.”

Given the Blade is powered by Android, the platform will be open to all developers. These apps and services will appear in a built-in App Store, although Vuzix doesn’t say if the Blade Smart Glasses will directly support Google Play Store apps, or if users can sideload Play apps into the local Android operating system.

Vuzix is taking $495 reservations for a developer kit consisting of the company’s development software, a preproduction design verification testing unit, and a production unit. The release date and price of the actual retail version are not yet known.

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