For the last two years at CES we've checked out the augmented reality eyewear made by the Rochester, NY company Vuzix. It went from a proof of concept in 2013 to a hands on with a looped demo video in 2014. This year, the product is finally finished and operational. We tried on a pair and found it pretty similar to Google Glass, a small screen project in the corner of our vision that we could read well enough. We could scroll through a few different services, like maps and a live video feed from the built-in camera. But despite the assurances from Vuzix that the device was also stylish, we aren't going to be wearing this around the office anytime soon.
Vuzix says that it has sold a few thousand units which are now live in the field. The two biggest applications are for picking packages in a warehouse and helping repairmen service units in an unfamiliar building. In a warehouse setting, the glasses display arrows that guide you to the exact package you're looking for. You can then scan the barcode by simply looking at it, and the inventory management system can update in real time. For service jobs, the glasses can guide you to the right location, then show you a video guide that walks you through any tricky parts of the repair. It can also be used to connect for a video chat with tech support back at your home base if you get stuck or are missing a part.
Vuzix also had some custom frames on display that it said were aimed at mainstream consumers. The company believes, like Google, that people might find utility in using them on a daily basis for hands free mapping, email and text notifications, and capturing POV photos and video. The device runs on Android and uses the same API as Google Glass to work with smartphone apps. With a bulky CPU unit on the side, they are decidedly less fashionable than Glass, which is itself pretty hard for most people to feel comfortable wearing. But if you're game the "prosumer" edition of the M100 is now on sale, and for $500 less than the Explorer version of Glass will cost you.