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Following last year’s release of an enterprise version of Blade, a pair of augmented reality smart glasses that resemble traditional sunglasses, Vuzix today confirmed dates and pricing for its consumer model. Previously referred to as “Blade General,” the retail version of Blade is available for preorder today at $1,000 and is shipping in 4-6 weeks.
Unlike some AR headset rivals, Blade isn’t designed to operate wholly on its own, instead relying on an Android phone or iPhone for data services. Wearers are able to see the real world through their lenses, augmented with a rectangular waveguide display that produces a bright, floating color image that’s easy to view.
The screen enables users to view emails, images such as restaurant menus, text messages, media player controls, and map navigation instructions, all of which can be addressed using frame-side controls and, in some cases, multilingual voice commands. Vuzix is now promising both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support. Additionally, an integrated camera can record 8-megapixel photos and 720p videos.
Blade is powered by a quad-core ARM CPU and a customized version of Android OS, with integrated gyroscope hardware for basic head tracking. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless communications and has a microSD port to store content.
Vuzix has been working to define an audience for Blade since debuting the hardware at CES in 2017. It now expects that the retail version of Blade will appeal to workers whose hands are otherwise occupied, as well as disabled users who struggle to use conventional smartphones. The retail model will support prescription lens inserts at a premium of approximately $200.
Apart from third-party app support, which at the moment appears to be quite limited, the biggest question marks for Blade are battery life and whether consumers are willing to spend so much for relatively basic “AR” functionality. More information will likely be shared ahead of the product’s wider availability in February.
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