Vuzix Corporation came to CES 2012 armed with a video eyewear technology that, as they put it in the press release, "breaks the boundaries of conventional optics and display solutions". SMART Glasses Technology is based on integrated HD display engines and waveguide optics, as opposed to refractive and/or reflective optics used so far. What does that actually mean and is this technology really going to make Head Mounted Displays lose their association with bulkiness and strange looks? Read on for a report straight from the CES 2012 floor.
The wares proudly displayed in Las Vegas crown years of internal R&D work coupled with a recent licensing deal with Nokia. The SMART Glasses Technology relies on a compact HD display engine churning out images with brightness and contrast good enough for outdoor use. The output passes through a 1.4 mm thick plastic waveguide lens and the resulting image is extended in 2D into the user's eyes.
Since the projected images are merged with the real world information, you can safely watch a movie on the go without bumping into things. But the company sees the technology as much more than just wearable TV. The glasses are meant to work in unison with Internet connected mobile devices, which leaves the door wide open to augmented reality (AR) based applications.
Whatever AR magic the glasses are set to perform, the software will have a lot of hardware to rely upon. SMART Glasses, or at least some varieties of them, will be able to record and transmit everything that the user sees. They will also be capable of recognizing their environment and their position in the real word.
Throw in some integrated head tracking and options for multiple camera technologies that "broaden the users' sensory perception across a greatly expanded light spectrum" and you can see why, apart from the consumer markets, Vuzix is also eyeing the commercial and industrial markets. It's probably with the last two in mind that the company came up with some pretty interesting form factors, like that helmet mounted monocle for example. Consumers can rest assured, however, that all this cutting edge technology nicely fits into an ordinary pair of shades. Finally, making a fashion statement will cease to be a compulsory part of the deal.
From single-purpose night vision and first responder solutions to fully connected AR devices stuffed with sensors, a variety of SMART Glasses is slated to appear on the market as early as summer 2012.