Why 2014 is the 'year of smart glasses'

Raise your glass to the coming wave of face-top computing gadgets. You'll see: There's something for everybody.

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Vuzix M100

Vuzix's smart glasses have an important feature that Google does not offer: It's shipping now to consumers -- sort of. For about $999, Vuzix will sell you its M100 glasses. (They're backlogged, though, so expect a few weeks for delivery.) The M100 runs Android, and offers a 5MP camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, a speaker and microphone and many of the other features found in Google Glass.

Atheer Glasses

Another crowd-funded project from a Silicon Valley-based company called Atheer is expected to result in relatively low-cost 3D smart glasses, one costing $850 for developers and shipping in a few months, and another priced at $350 for consumers and expected to ship "late next year." Atheer has two screens for 3D input and two cameras for in-air gesture control.

Technical Illusions CastAR

Technical Illusions' CastAR augmented reality glasses use two screens to create 3D views of data and objects. It's especially optimized for gaming where the virtual objects look like they exist as holograms in the real world. Unusually, the company uses RFID tracking to interact with physical gaming objects. The company is in its early stages, and raised $1.5 million on Kickstarter. Their web site says they intend to ship to consumers "sometime in 2014."


Icis "smartspecks" are designed to look and work like regular glasses (in three styles and they fit prescription lenses), but they connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth. They're optimized for social network notifications and turn-by-turn directions, taking pictures and video and more. The pre-beta product is expected in "mid-2014" for $400 a pair.

Lumus DK-40

Lumus has been in the heads-up display business for years (mostly for the military). Now the company is getting into the consumer smart glasses racket. Lumus DK-40 smart glasses, which run Android, are expected to debut with an SDK at CES next month but won't ship to developers until the end of the first quarter. They're also seeking out OEMs to manufacture them.

And more

Tech giants Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Baidu and Samsung are rumored to be working on smart glass headsets, too. If these rumored products come to fruition they may not ship in 2014.

I'm not big on "The Year Of" proclamations. But I do know that a whole lot of companies intend to ship a whole lot of smart glass products in 2014. The range of prices and features are very broad, with some models priced competitively with "dumb" glasses and sunglasses.

I think that many of the smart glasses naysayers are going to be tempted by some of these new products. After all, if smart glasses look like regular glasses and are priced like regular glasses, why not get a pair?

It's going to be a tempting year.

This article, Why 2014 is the 'year of smart glasses', was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at http://Google.me/+MikeElgan. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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