Over the years, we’ve seen a number of companies try and fail at the smart glasses game. Google Glass which debuted back in 2013 creeped people out with its “not sure if your recording me” design, and then the SnapChat Spectacles launched in September 2016 failed miserably with less than 50% of users continuing to wear them after only a few weeks.
That’s not stopping Intel from getting in on the fun though.
The Intel glasses are called Vaunt, first seen by the Verge, and they are nearly indistinguishable from regular glasses. Instead of some cumbersome headset with a special screen, Intel’s Vaunt glasses are simple plastic frames that weigh under 50 grams (nearly the exact weight of Snap Spectacles). The smart glasses work with prescription and non-prescription lenses, and there is no camera equipped.
Instead of some cumbersome headset with a special screen, Intel’s Vaunt glasses are simple plastic frames that weigh under 50 grams (nearly the exact weight of Snap Spectacles). The smart glasses work with prescription and non-prescription lenses, and there’s no creepy camera.
To any onlooker, you might just be wearing a pair of Walmart reading glasses.
But on the inside of the stems sits a low-powered class one laser, as well as a processor, an accelerometer, a Bluetooth chip and a compass. This laser, which Intel says is “so low-power that it’s at the very bottom end of a class one laser,” emits a red, monochrome image into your eye at 400 x 150 pixels.
The image might let you know it’s someone’s birthday, send notifications from your phone, or the glasses might detect that you’re in the kitchen and send you a recipe. Because the laser is beaming directly into your retina, the image is always in focus.
While future models might be equipped with a microphone and access to smart assistants like Alexa or Siri, the first-gen Vaunt models will be controlled through subtle motion gestures like a nod of the head. Intel wants these glasses to fit into your life as naturally as possible.
While it’s unclear just how the Vaunt glasses will come to market, Intel has said that the OEM route is a more likely strategy than Intel selling these specs themselves. And, relatedly, Intel will be opening up the platform to developers with the launch of an early access program and SDK.
While it’s unclear if a product like this will be viable in the market, Intel’s Vaunt currently represents the most promising version of ‘smart glasses’ yet. The project is in the very early stages of development, so there’s no telling when, or even if, this comes to fruition in a meaningful way.
Here’s a hands-on video of the Intel glasses