The most important parts of Intel’s new Vaunt smart glasses are the pieces that were left out.
There is 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).
From the outside, the Vaunt glasses look just like eyeglasses. When you’re wearing them, you see a stream of information on what looks like a screen — but it’s actually being projected onto your retina.
The prototypes I wore in December also felt virtually indistinguishable from regular glasses. They come in several styles, work with prescriptions, and can be worn comfortably all day. Apart from a tiny red glimmer that’s occasionally visible on the right lens, people around you might not even know you’re wearing smart glasses.
Like Google Glass did five years ago, Vaunt will launch an “early access program” for developers later this year. But Intel’s goals are different than Google’s. Instead of trying to convince us we could change our lives for a head-worn display, Intel is trying to change the head-worn display to fit our lives.
Google Glass, and the Glassholes who came with it, gave head-worn displays a bad reputation. HoloLens is aiming for a full, high-end AR experience that literally puts a Windows PC on your head. Magic Leap puts an entire computer on your hip, plus its headset is a set of goggles that look like they belong in a Vin Diesel movie.
We live in a world where our watches have LTE and our phones can turn our faces into bouncing cartoon characters in real time. You’d expect a successful pair of smart glasses to provide similar wonders. Every gadget these days has more, more, more.
With Vaunt, Intel is betting on less.
PUTTING THE “WEAR” IN WEARABLE
Take the stickers and part numbers off the Vaunt prototypes I tried this past December, and they would just look like slightly chunky, plastic-framed glasses. With a little more polish, I could see myself wearing them all the time, even if they didn’t have a display. Though I only saw two versions in Intel’s New Devices Group (NDG) San Francisco offices, Intel envisions having many different styles available when the product formally launches.
”When we look at what types of new devices are out there, [we are] really excited about head-worn [products],” says Itai Vonshak, head of products for NDG. “Head-worn products are hard because people assign a lot of attributes to putting something on their head. It means something about their personality.” That’s Vonshak’s politic way of saying other smart glasses look terrible, so his goal was to create something that has, as he puts it over and over again, “zero social cost.”
”We wanted to make sure somebody puts this on and gets value without any of the negative impact of technology on their head,” he says. “Everything from the ground up is designed to make the technology disappear.”
One of the Vaunt team’s primary design goals was to create a pair of smart glasses you could wear all day. Vaunt’s codename inside Intel was “Superlite” for a reason: they needed to weigh in under 50 grams. That’s still more than most eyeglasses by a noticeable margin, but Google Glass added an extra 33 grams on top of whatever pair you were wearing. Anything more and they’d be uncomfortable. The electronics and batteries had to be placed so they didn’t put too much weight on either your nose or your ears. They had to not just look like normal glasses, they had to feel like them.
That’s why all of the electronics in Vaunt sit inside two little modules built into the stems of the eyeglasses. More importantly, though, the electronics are located entirely up near the face of the frames so that the rest of the stems, and even the frame itself, can flex a little, just like any other regular pair of glasses. Other smart glasses have batteries that are integrated into the entire stem, “so those become very rigid and do not deform to adjust to your head size,” says Mark Eastwood, NDG’s industrial design director. “It’s very important when you look at eyewear that it deforms along its entire length to fit your head.”
Originally posted by TheVerge.