Wearable Tech World Feature Article
May 02, 2013

Vuzix Scores Big with New M100 Smart Glasses

Given the almost ubiquitous presence of Google Glass and all its surrounding hype, the world at large can maybe be forgiven if it doesn't always know there are other possibilities beyond Google Glass. For example, there is Epson's $699 3D Moverio platform, which we've noted a few times and which we'll be covering in detail in the near future. It's already shipping and offers some very interesting possibilities.

Then there is Vuzix, a large company with many products in its pipeline both old and new, that Vuzix markets to both the consumer and professional markets. Some of these products fall into the smart glasses category - these include its $499 1200 series, the $1,499 Wrap 1200AR and the far more expensive Star 1200 XL and Star 1200 XLD augmented reality glasses, which weigh in at $4,999.

Vuzix also provides developer software and support to enable the growth and development of AR applications for its mobile devices. The company traces its origins to defense research and development for next generation display solutions and has collected over 44 patents and patents pending in the video eyewear field.

The Star 1200 XLD with HDMI support are shown below.

No need to ever go to an IMAX theater with these on your head, and serious gamers can simply ditch the three-screen gaming setup forever. How does 2D and 3D on the equivalent of a 75-inch flat panel display as seen from 10 feet strike you?

But now Vuzix is taking things both a step further and more into the realm of what Google Glass hopes to deliver with its brand new Android-based M100 Smart Glasses. Vuzix showed the M100 - which will support both Adroid and iOS - off at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, and received a lot of media coverage on them. Our Editor in Chief Rich Tehrani interviewed Vuzix at CES regarding the M100 - it captures all the details of what the M100 delivers.

As was noted, the M100 will be shipping this summer and Vuzix anticipates a list price under $500. The price is certainly in line with what consumers are likely willing to spend on the device. Vuzix of course will provide its own set of initial out-of-the-box apps, but the company clearly understands that it will need to do much more and will need to harness the full power of mobile apps in order to fully maximize the benefits of the "platform."

To achieve that goal, Vuzix will need to get developers and augmented reality content developers on board. The company has moved quickly to do exactly this, and clearly there are no shortages of developer interest. The company has not only put a software development kit (SDK) out there for sale, but Vuzix has also just announced that in fact its Gold Edition M100 Smart Glasses SDK is now officially sold out.

The Vuzix M100 SDK Silver Edition continues to be available, with emulation software shipping immediately and hardware scheduled to ship in early summer. And Vuzix expects to be able to ship additional Gold Editions within four weeks.

The M100 is much closer in functionality to what Google Glass is looking to deliver than Vuzix's other products. It worth noting that developers are very interested in building out content and apps - clearly they believe there will be a market for them. The market is very likely to include both consumer and enterprise applications, as well as public safety possibilities.

Vuzix President and CEO Paul Travers notes, "It's great to see such overwhelming demand for our Smart Glasses, especially from the enterprise and prosumer sectors. Since Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses are very similar to an Android-based smart phone, using the same general hardware and Android OS, developers are finding it easy to write and port applications for the M100. Many of the applications available today through popular Android app stores are already confirmed to work unmodified with the M100 and in other cases just a few simple modifications allow them to provide optimum performance. This native mode compatibility means that thousands of existing applications will work with the M100 on the day it ships."

The Vuzix technology is very interesting. While it certainly doesn't come with the hype that Google Glass comes with, the device can certainly deliver on a good deal of the functionality. Just as the Google folks have gotten numerous developers on board, Vuzix looks to be achieving a similar pattern of success - and that is good news. Ultimately it will be the apps - and their overall functionality - that will make this market viable rather than a novelty.

A detailed M100 product spec sheet is available for download.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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