Smart eyeglasses may have some handy use cases, but existing models are far from aesthetically pleasing. Intel is looking to bring some style to the world of smart specs with a new pair called Vaunt, which it unveiled via The Verge.
According to The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, who tested Vaunt prototypes in December, the glasses look and feel like any other pair. But, unlike an ordinary pair of glasses, Vaunt can project information like directions or message notifications from your iOS or Android smartphone into your field of vision.
The brains of the glasses—including “a suite of electronics designed to power a very low-powered laser”—live in the stems on the sides, according to the report.
That laser “shines a red, monochrome image somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 x 150 pixels onto a holographic reflector on the glasses’ right lens,” Bohn reported. “The image is then reflected into the back of your eyeball, directly onto the retina.”
Intel did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.
Thanks to their discreet design, Vaunt probably won’t freak people out when you’re wearing them in public, unlike Google Glass.
There’s “no camera to creep people out, no button to push, no gesture area to swipe, no glowing LCD screen, no weird arm floating in front of the lens, no speaker, and no microphone (for now),” Bohn reported. “Apart from a tiny red glimmer that’s occasionally visible on the right lens, people around you might not even knowyou’re wearing smart glasses.”
Later this year, Intel plans to launch an “early access program,” giving developers the chance to try out its Vaunt glasses, and start creating apps that work with them. Bohn reported that he saw two prototypes, developed by Intel’s New Devices Group, but the company hopes to offer “many different” prescription-friendly styles when Vaunt eventually goes on sale.
The company is also reportedly considering adding a microphone and making Vaunt compatible with Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa for voice control. Intel envisions Vaunt doing all sorts of helpful things beyond just showing smartphone notifications.
If you’re standing on the sidewalk choosing between two neighboring restaurants, for instance, the glasses may be able to tell you which establishment has a better Yelp review, Itai Vonshak, VP of Intel’s New Devices Group VP, told Bohn. Or, if you’re in the kitchen making a batch of cookies, you can ask Alexa to pull up the recipe, and Vaunt may be able to beam it right into your eyeball.
Google, meanwhile, has refocused its Glass efforts on the business world with the Glass Enterprise Edition. In July, the company said about 50 businesses were using Glass, including GE, Volkswagen, Boeing, DHL, agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO, testing and certification organization NSF International, Dignity Health, and Sutter Health.