Intel has demonstrated a new set of smart glasses called Vaunt for Dieter Bohn from The Verge and they are very different than what we have seen previously for smart eyewear. First, Vaunt look a lot like normal glasses. They may be a bit larger than normal glasses, but not significantly so. Second, they use retinal projection to display information. This is accomplished by painting an image with a laser directly onto the back of your retina. The image is only viewable when looking down slightly and apparently low intensity enough to be harmless.
The current prototypes are touch and gesture controlled, but Itai Vonshak, VP of products for Intel’s New Devices Group, indicates in a video interview that Alexa integration is a natural progression. Vaunt seems very different than previous smart glass attempts and might just be the right form factor to achieve consumer acceptance. There is no integrated camera today so people won’t fear you are recording their activities. They are small and lightweight. Intel will launch a developer program for Vaunt later this year.
Vaunt Smart Glasses to Bring More Multimodal to Voice
We know that voice interaction has quickly been incorporated into the most popular consumer audio devices such as speakers, earbuds and headphones. Smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show, a variety of Google Assistant powered screens and the open source Mycroft Mark II will represent an important product category in 2018 that expands users of multimodal interaction that combines voice with visual display. The next evolution of voice-driven multimodal interaction will almost certainly be smart glasses.
The Financial Times reported in September 2017 that Amazon is working on a smart glasses product and LET Labs launched an Indigogo fundraising campaign for LET Glass in December. That campaign exceeded its goal by 431%, raised $147,110 and is expected to ship in May 2018. Vaunt appears to be the most sophisticated approach to smart glasses to date and foreshadow what is to come. Part of that future is clearly voice interaction for a hands free, eyes optional user experience on the go. Not only will smart glasses expand the availability of voice interaction in mobile settings, they will also mean voice app designers may soon have a new multimodal surface to accommodate.