CES 2023: These 38-gram smart glasses aim to make AR practical

We spoke with Vuzix founder and CEO Paul Travers about the recently announced Vuzix Ultralite smart glasses manufacturer reference design. The Vuzix hardware will be the basis for some of the most practical, tech-enhanced eyewear arriving in 2023.

Smart glasses built on the Vuzix Ultralite design can provide hands-free access to notifications, directions, fitness tracking, and more. The need to continually haul a smartphone out of your pocket, interrupting conversations to check messages, might soon come to an end. That information will be unobtrusive, yet visible in a sharp, bright display that features microLED and waveguide technology.

Vuzix AR wearables are remarkably thin, like regular glasses.

You’ll be free to use both hands to hold a beverage and open doors while getting turn-by-turn directions as you navigate an unfamiliar area. There’s no need to risk fumbling your $1,000 smartphone every time a message comes in. All of that smartphone information will be visible in these light, slim smart glasses.

While the Vuzix CEO wouldn’t speculate about pricing for AR glasses built on the Ultralite design, its approach is unique in the overhyped AR and VR marketplace, focusing on the basics and executing with precision. The Vuzix Ultralite smart glasses have a single monochrome display that Travers described as razor sharp, with a bright green color that stands out clearly over the seethrough display, even in daylight. Vuzix is using micro-LED and waveguide technology to enable this advanced, lightweight, low-power solution.

Vuzix designed the Ultralite for comfort. and the reference design weighs just 38 grams, an important consideration for technology that’s worn on the face. The display occupies a 30-degree field of view and information can be repositioned within this area so it’s easily readable without being distracting.

User interaction is via a touchpad on the right of the frame. The reference model doesn’t include cameras for hand-tracking, which would reduce battery life and eliminate privacy concerns. The Vuzix Ultralite uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPhone or Android phone for processing, which is the key to the estimated two-day battery life of these smart glasses.

A woman wears Vuzix Ultralight AR glasses.

Vuzix isn’t pitching rainbows, unicorns, and a life-changing metaverse experience with its AR solution. Instead, the Ultralite design offers a very practical experience that offers immediate, real-world value. The idea is that you’ll be able to install the app, pair your smartphone, and start keeping your head up and hands-free throughout the day.

Travers shared that future consumer smart glasses from Vuzix will surely delve further into the augmented reality features. That will include cameras and accepting hand gesture input. When asked about Qualcomm’s Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1, Travers expressed interest, but there are no firm plans on using this new chipset just yet.

Vuzix will be shipping its reference design to manufacturer partners to customize and brand soon, and smart glasses based on the Vuzix Ultralite could be available to purchase as early as the second quarter of 2023.

Smart glasses built on the Vuzix Ultralite design will support messaging, notifications, and turn-by-turn directions via an included smartphone app. For additional integrations, a developer’s kit will be available to bring more capabilities. For example, your heart rate, step count, and more could easily be shown in the Vuzix Ultralite display, making it easier to track your workout routine while keeping your phone in your pocket.

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