Google Glass may be getting all the headlines, but Vuzix has been dabbling in the augmented reality glasses market for years now. It already has a number of products in its Smart Glasses range, and all manner of other video eyewear too - some offering 3D movie and TV viewing.
However, its latest product, which has just been awarded a Best of Innovations honour by the CES 2013 board, goes head-to-head with the Google AR concept, even offering a wider feature set to boot.
The Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 is a hands-free display that you hook over your ear like a Bluetooth earpiece. It also uses Bluetooth to connect to an Android smartphone or iPhone and features a virtual display that the user can see, an integrated camera and its own processing engine, running a modified Android operating system.
Vuzix claims the device is powerful enough to connect to the internet and run games and applications under its own steam, but for now it hooks up to your smartphone to open and access existing and future apps in order to display texts, email, maps, video and the like. As it's an earpiece too, you will be able to hear audio through it, albeit in mono.
Using the display, you will be able to see your address book visually, even a caller alert. There's also an integrated head tracker and GPS for positional and spatial awareness, and because of the built-in camera, AR functionality is possible with compatible apps.
As well as smartphone apps that work with the device, Vuzix plans to launch applications that can be downloaded directly to the M100. "Running the Android OS enables application downloads directly into Vuzix Smart Glasses M100," said Paul J Travers, the company's CEO. "This flexibility is going to open up many amazing new solutions for our users from advanced HUD navigation applications to gaming.
"Not only are Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 a great hands-free solution, but finally there is a platform that is designed specifically for the growing augmented reality markets. Enabling hands-free access to applications from visual search to derivatives of mapping street views – all will finally be available in Vuzix Smart Glasses."
The Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 will be on show at CES in Las Vegas in January. Pocket-lint will bring you more, including price and availability, when we report live back from the consumer electronics trade show.