Canadians looking to try on a pair of smart glasses are finally getting their chance, but it’s not Google who is making the dream come true. Instead, the first commercially available pair of smart glasses comes from Vuzix, a video eyewear and smart glasses company based in Rochester, New York.
Vuzix announced today that they’ve completed the necessary production and regulatory testing of the M100 Smart Glasses, and have started to ship out the device to registered developers and those who pre-ordered. The M100 retails for $999.99 USD, nearly $500 cheaper than Google Glass. And though Glass looks better, it is currently only available for residents of the US — Vuzix is shipping the M100 to anyone worldwide.
The M100 shares the same wearable category as Google Glass but there are many major elements which set the two Android-operated smart glasses apart.
To begin with, M100’s display is at eye level rather than elevated just above the eye, which is where Glass’s prism is located. In addition, Vuzix offers two mounting solutions: an over-the-head system as well as a safety-glass option. Both options allow for left or right eye use. Google Glass currently supports right eye use only.
Though both offer a 16:9 full colour display, Google says that their display feels like a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away. Vuzix, on the other hand, describes their display experience as being equivalent to a four inch smartphone screen held fourteen inches away.
Vuzix can be controlled through the four control buttons on the device, voice or gesture, or via the interface on a paired Android device. Both Glass and the M100 have recording capabilities and 5MP cameras. But the M100 trumps Glass with its video capabilities, offering full 1080p HD recording versus Glass’s 720p. Video and images can be stored directly on M100’s memory, which is expandable up to 32GB.
Arguably, the M100 lacks the aesthetics of Google Glass. From the marketing materials, the M100 looks more like a CSR-headset than a sleek device from the future. That being said, Glass’s design hasn’t been well received by consumers despite Google’s attempts at making it look cool by affiliating it with stars and well-known fashion designers.
Vuzix companion app is currently available for Android only but their website does state that an iOS app is in the works. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 to pair with an Android device and can connect to Wi-Fi.
Apps can be run locally on the M100 or on your smartphone while the M100 is paired or a combination of the two operating models. Vuzix’s website indicates that their device will support the “thousands of existing Android apps plus Android apps customized or created exclusively for its unique design.”
Vuzix M100 smart glasses was the recipient of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award and selected as Best Technology in the Wireless Handset Accessory category. The M100 is not the first digital eyewear product from Vuzix. Vuzix launched iWear, video glasses for your iPod, back in 2006 so they are definitely pioneers in this space.