Vuzix to launch Amazon Alexa-powered smart glasses

Vuzix will unveil a set of smart glasses powered by Alexa this week, as Amazon’s smart assistant continues to pose a threat to leading platforms from Apple and Google, according to CNBC.

The $1,000 glasses are aimed at a “prosumer” market, such as golfers or business customers, the company said, but will eventually come down in price and incorporate new features.

 Voice assistants are key on smaller devices, such as glasses, where swiping is impractical. And Amazon has found a way to tap that market though small companies like Vuzix, which has a market capitalisation of just about $186 million.

Vuzix’s is one of many augmented-reality products expected out of CES, a consumer electronics trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week, CNBC reported.

Augmented reality is a technology that projects computerised images onto a live video image from the real world, while its cousin virtual reality completely embeds the user in a 360-degree computer-generated world.

Depending on their quality, availability and price, these AR products could haunt Apple, which has planned its own smart speaker and is reportedly working on augmented reality glasses. But with Siri’s HomePod debut delayed, Alexa seems to be stepping into the augmented reality market.

Vuzix has a long-standing presence as a wearables maker in the enterprise technology market, working with companies such as DHL, Airbus and Bosch. But CEO Paul Travers said he’s bullish enough on the impact of new augmented reality technologies that he plans to take Vuzix glasses to consumer markets early in the second quarter of this year.

“Our opinion is that if you make something that solves a problem, there’s a market for it,” he said.

He said that from the early 2000s, clients had requested “Oakley-style” smart glasses, but until recently, it was difficult to package fast processing power into a small hardware package like glasses frames. But coming technologies, particularly 5G internet connectivity and faster processors, will allow more communication between the “edge” of the device and the cloud, enabling advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence to appear on small, thin screens.

Travers said that Microsoft, Google and Apple are still the only widespread platforms for developers to make augmented reality products. But, he said, limiting them to phone apps much longer, as Apple has so far done, could limit their appeal.


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