By Amruth Chinnappa
Wearable electronics have captured the minds of businesses worldwide. They are not a recent phenomenon and the steady stream of smart watches and glasses have given the consumer a variety of choices. It’s not surprising then, that technology giant Intel has made its foray into this segment with Vaunt, a minimalistic, socially unobtrusive smart glass.
Concentrated efforts on bringing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and multi-functionality to frequently used essentials has prompted mixed reactions of satisfaction and weariness among users. The very convenience associated with such devices are sometimes masked by excessive features introduced by the designers. In this regard, Vaunt intends to prove a different statement focusing on a change in just the functionality but not the design of eyewear.
The spectacles have none of the protruding parts of the google glass and can enable the wearer to walk down the street looking no different than usual. Well, apart from a tiny red dot on the lens visible at certain angles. Vaunt uses a VCSEL laser to reflect an image (400 x 150 pixels) off the holographic lens and focuses it on the retina of the eyeball. While some may cringe at the thought of lasers pointing toward their eyes, the company elucidates its harmlessness and explains that the energy is too less to cause any damage. The added advantage lies in the fact that it can be used by people with visual defects as well because the light falls directly on the retina, bypassing the deformities of the eye.
Vaunt is essentially a notification device which can display simple directions, messages and can be linked over Bluetooth to apps for easy access. The display is fixed in the bottom right of one’s vision and relies on some friendly coding to prevent an invasive feeling which could be felt by a user. The text is visible only when the region is consciously observed. This could be expected to lead to missed calls and notifications but the engineers at Vaunt assure that it is not so. The human eye is never at rest and can recognise movement at its periphery. This feature ensures the effectiveness of the in-built software.
The sleek design features a set of electronics in the right stem of the glasses to power the battery and the other technology such as Bluetooth are housed on the left stem ensuring a balanced product. They weigh around 50 grams and are a bit heavier than other smart glasses on the market. Google Glass weighs 42 grams but is not a standalone device like Vaunt and has to be equipped with a host set of spectacles. Vaunt also is equipped with an accelerometer and a compass to perform directional tasks. The entire hardware of the device is custom designed by Intel. “We had to integrate very, very power-efficient light sources, MEMS devices for actually painting an image,” says Jerry Bautista, the lead for the team building wearable devices at Intel’s New Devices Group (NDG).
Most of its purported functions are hypothetical in nature and is intended to offer ambient, contextual information as needed rather than just blaring notifications throughout the day. The level of interaction could be through voice or subtle head gestures- tracked by the accelerometer. “We really believe that it can’t have any social cost,” says Itai Vonshak, head of products. “So if it’s weird, if you look geeky if you’re tapping and fiddling — then we’ve lost.” He also describes instances while walking down a commercial street when a glance at a restaurant results in its Yelp reviews displayed on Vaunt. The device could also soon implement the use of voice assistants like Alexa.
Keeps you ‘Vaunt’ing more
In a time where devices imitate each other in their functions but vary only in their screen sizes, Vaunt offers a much-needed perspective on comfortable technology applications in daily life. It is not an alternative to the mobile phone but could in time, prove so. The device is expected to cost around $1,500 and is to be released to developers sometime in the upcoming months.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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