Internet eyewear much in view at CES trade fair

Jan 09, 2014 by Glenn Chapman
Jeff Boleman tries the Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses, which projects two identical 16:9 images onto the lens-based screens, at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 7, 2014

While many of the digital glitterati thronging this week's Consumer Electronics Show were wearing Google's new Internet glasses, rival online eyewear products abounded among the trade stands.

US-based Vuzix showed off what it billed as the first commercially available "smart glasses," an Android-powered monocle-style device with a high-resolution camera.

It can be connected to smartphones or wireless Internet hotspots and display Internet data directly in front of a user's eye.

"We are targeting it toward the industrial space, like people in a warehouse who need to pick up packages," Mike Hallett of Vuzix told AFP, while showing off the at CES.

"The camera on the front could scan bar codes, then tell the person where to find the packages," he continued. "We are in the airline and medical industries with a lot of applications."

Vuzix wants to cross into the consumer market with applications to enable the devices to check email or translate written languages.

"If you are in Japan and don't speak or read Japanese, it can translate the signs for you and help you get around based on GPS coordinates, right in front of your eye instead of having to look down at the phone," Hallett said of the eyepiece, priced at $1,000.

Vuzix also showed of a new model, which was basically a set of over-the-ear headphones with a visor-like video display that tilted up or down as desired.

"It's a huge, immersive experience," Hallett said. "People on the go who want a big screen on trains or planes; gamers, or even in the office instead of a monitor on your desk."

The eyewear was expected to be priced in the $500 to $800 range when Vuzix releases them later this year.

A history of smart eyewear on display at CES showed gadgets dating back to 1987.

"Check out 2002, it looks like you have a buzz-saw on your head," quipped Rhys Filmer of OrCam, an Israel-based company behind the display and a device to provide sight to the visually impaired.

"A lot of it back then was for the army."

In 2007 eyewear looking like upside-down sunglasses debuted and were used on flights to give first-class passengers immersive movie viewing, according to the timeline on display.

"Our device is more remedial, specifically for people with low-vision or legally blind," Filmer said.

The OrCam mini camera clips to eyeglass frames and has a bone-conduction speaker that presses against a wearer's temple.

It lets a person point to what they want read, whether in a book or newspaper or on a street sign or approaching bus, and then treats that as a starting point to begin speaking the words.

The OrCam device should hit the market in about six months at a price of $2,500, according to Filmer.

"All of this technology is going to help you function and be more independent," Filmer said of the trend in building computing power into eyewear.

"Instead of pulling out your phone, what you want is going to be showing up in your glasses. It is going to be helpful for everything you want to accomplish in your day."

Last month, Google announced updates to the software in its Internet-linked Glass eyewear to allow users to snap pictures by winking.

The new feature, which promises to escalate privacy concerns already being voiced about the high-tech gadget, came as one of an array of improvements.

Updates included letting owners lock eyewear so it can't be used unless a person knows the right "handshake" of swipes and taps.

"Glassware" code powering the eyewear was also modified to upload video directly to Google-owned video-sharing venue YouTube.

"Glass is about helping you look up and experience the world around you without getting bogged down by technology," Google said.

The high-tech accoutrement lets wearers take pictures, record video, send messages or perform other tasks with touch controls or by speaking commands.

It connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones.

Facebook, Twitter and news organizations have already tailored applications for Glass, which has so far only been made available to developers and a limited selection of "explorers" who paid $1,500 each for the eyewear.

Google has not announced a public release date for Google Glass but speculation centers around early this year.

Explore further: Google Glass eyewear lets winking snap pictures

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sony's PlayStation 4 sales top seven million

Apr 17, 2014

Sony says it has sold seven million PlayStation 4 worldwide since its launch last year and admitted it can't make them fast enough, in a welcome change of fortune for the Japanese consumer electronics giant.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2014
I suppose those virtual translucent interactive display screens you see tony stark flinging around in the air in the avengers could be simulated on these glasses. And others with glasses could watch you manipulating these screens. Sensors in the glasses could detect body movements and translate them to input to the screens.

I bet this is on the net somewhere.

More news stories

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

( —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.