After finally debuting its “smart” Blade-branded sunglasses for mainstream customers during CES 2018, Vuzix now offers three new programs under the “‘Blade Edge” umbrella for gaining access to the new augmented reality-based device. They replace the former Blade Beta Developer kit pre-order program, which supposedly ran dry immediately after January’s technology show. These programs are open to all, whether you’re a developer, a major corporation, or a mainstream customer who missed out on Google Glass.
For developers, the Blade Edge Architect program is their ticket to Vuzix’s smart sunglasses. Included with this program is the software development kit, an emulator, technical specification updates, and eventually the hardware itself. Developers also have access to a secure forum to chat with the Edge engineers.
For the enterprise, Vuzix offers the Blade Edge @ Work program. Corporations get the same software and hardware bundle, but instead of receiving access to the private chat channel, Vuzix assigns an account manager. This individual will make sure companies get everything they need to develop, pilot, and deploy projects based on the Edge smartglasses.
Finally, Vuzix serves up the Blade Edge Engage program for everyone else. Individuals are essentially signing up to test the hardware and software, and provide feedback. In return, they’ll be placed in a short line to receive one of the first Blade models rolling off the production line. Members will speak directly to Vuzix and other Blade Edge Engage participants.
The catch is that developers and companies must supply a $250 deposit during the application phase. If approved, the remaining $750 plus shipping charges and taxes must be paid prior to the hardware and software kit’s deployment. Presumably all parties will not be charged $250 if they do not qualify during the application phase. This deposit plans appears to apply to the Blade Edge Engage platform too.
The Blade AR smartglasses made a big splash during CES, touted as the smartglasses Google wished it built with Glass. Vuzix already offered a version for the enterprise sector as a more stylish solution than its other AR-based products. But the company brought its Blade smartglasses to the mainstream market in early January, and saw a quick depletion of its pre-order supply.
On the outside, Blade resembles a standard set of sunglasses. But they include two transparent displays that project data into your field of view. Backing these screens is a four-core processor, Wireless AC connectivity, and a Bluetooth connection to any Android or iOS device. That means you can make calls, get driving directions, receive notifications, and more without removing the phone from your pocket.
Even more, the Blade smartglasses include an embedded 8MP camera capable of capturing 1080p video. The onboard storage capacity is unknown for now, but the device includes a MicroSD card slot for capturing and storing all those photos and videos. How the general population will react to the embedded camera is unknown for now, but it could suffer the same privacy-related ridicule experienced by Google Glass.