When it comes to technologically advanced glasses, all eyes have been on Google Glass.
But the world’s search engine giant has a rival on its hands. While Google Glass has made all the headlines so far, a competitor is set to launch its own product first.
First revealed at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Rochester-based company Vuzix has now showcased its new gadget to a European market at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona and has now further developed the concept.
While Google Glass will set you back $1,500, Vuzix’s M100 hands-free smartphone display is also a wearable screen. It is, however, smaller and cheaper than Google’s high end offering. No specific price point has been revealed yet but the company has said it will cost less than $500 and the M100 will also be available earlier than Google Glass, coming on to the market this summer.
Meanwhile, Google is still in the development stages. It has just ended a call for “bold, creative individuals” in the US to be part of shaping the future of Google Glass. Calling those it chooses explorers, the first people to use Google Glass will help to give feedback about the experience.
The Vujix M100 looks more like a headset than a pair of glasses like Google’s. It works by connecting wirelessly to your Android or iOS device. It then shows you everything from your incoming texts and emails to allowing you to virtually look through your address book.
Connected via Bluetooth or Wifi, it hooks up directly to the internet and is able to run applications and games on its own. Partnered with your smartphone, you can access text, video, GPS and audio applications.
It can also cope with basic augmented reality, being equipped with an integrated head tracker, camera and a GPS system.
You can position the M100 over either eye and also adjust the arm that holds out the screen to give you the best possible view.
Currently working with third-party developers, Vujix is confident the M100 will have several apps that support it when it launches later this year.
The firm believes its new wearable technology could be as important a development as the move to smartphones. “Just as smartphones forever changed the telephone,” says the company, “the Vuzix smart glasses M100 redefines our interface to the ever-expanding digital world.”
Vujix’s chief executive officer, added: “There are thousands of developers with ideas for creative, fun and useful applications that would be ideal for use with smart glasses. We hope to encourage them to sign up through the Vuzix Developer Center and be among the first to receive the M100 units. We believe Vuzix smart glasses will have wide reaching impact on the way we use mobile connectivity.”
The company will certainly beat Google to the market but it remains to be seen whether it can also beat the technology behemoth in sales figures when the two products are both on sale to consumers.