With Google's Project Glass gaining plenty of attention in recent times, it's safe to say that the era of augmented reality eyewear is almost upon us. At CES 2013 we had a chance to strap on the M100 Smart Glasses from video eyewear specialist Vuzix to get at least a partial taste of what this AR future will feel like.
Described as a "hands free smartphone display and communications system," the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses look like a fairly standard Bluetooth earpiece apart from the extension arm which supports the tiny screen. The device comes packed with built-in Wi-FI, Bluetooth, the ability to record HD video (720p), a compass, an accelerometer and a 16:9, WQVGA, full color display. An onboard processor runs on the Android OS and GPS and head tracking capabilities can determine the user's direction and movement.
Unfortunately the demo units on the floor at CES only had a video playing, so we could not see everything that the devices are able to do as far as cell phone connections and video recording.
Looking at the screen was natural enough, and even through the resolution is pretty low at only 428 x 240, the image is certainly readable and can be compared to looking at a smartphone screen at a distance of about 14-inches (36 cm).
The form factor, not surprisingly, could take some getting used to. Since it only covers one eye, there's a tendency to want to close the other eye each time you look through the device. Remaining aware of the world around while walking down the street and looking at the screen will also present its own set of challenges.
The Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses will run on Android upon initial release in the Northern Hemisphere summer, while iOS support will be coming later in the year (provided the app is approved by Apple). The company plans to release the M100 at "under US$500."
Product page: Vuzix