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article imageIntel is working on smart glasses you could actually wear

By James Walker     Feb 5, 2018 in Technology
Intel's announced a set of smart glasses that look similar to a regular pair of eyeglasses. The prototype is a modern revival of the concepts behind Google's Glass project from five years ago. The device projects heads-up notifications onto your retina.
The existence of the glasses was first reported by Bloomberg last week in an article exposing Intel's plans to sell a majority stake in its augmented reality division. The device, named Vaunt, was then confirmed in an article from The Verge in which Intel granted hands-on time with an early prototype.
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The concept of smart glasses is now nothing new but Vaunt's the first time they've looked comparatively normal. Next to the original Google Glass devices, the Vaunt could pass as a standard pair of eyeglasses. It has plastic frames, weighs under 50 grams and avoids appearing futuristic as much as possible. The Verge reported they feel "virtually indistinguishable" from a regular pair of glasses.
Vaunt also addresses one of the Glass' other major issues. The front-facing camera prompted widespread privacy concerns from people concerned about the possible applications of the hidden lens. The Vaunt makes do without a camera, which should allow it to avoid some of the most persistent criticism around the Glass.
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Intel has a narrower focus for the Vaunt too. Instead of being a complete wearable computer, the Vaunt merely tries to create a more convenient smartwatch experience. You can view and respond to notifications, see information on the world around you and engage with digital services.
This is all made possible by a package of electronics that's located in the stem of the glasses. The most important component is an extremely low-power laser used to project visuals into the back of your eye. This means the image is always in-focus and directed to where you're looking. Intel said the laser is so low-power that there are no health implications for the wearer.
As a concept, Vaunt demonstrates how a more accomplished implementation of Google Glass could be developed. Intel's not yet ready to start selling the device but it is pursuing the plan as a serious project for an eventual launch. The company recognised there is work to do though, particularly around the privacy and ethical concerns that plagued Glass.
Although the camera has been removed, other major concerns remain unresolved. People could feasibly engage with the headset while appearing to talk to you, offering a new way to escape boredom at work or in meetings. Vaunt may be a more considered pair of smart glasses than Glass but the true hands-free approach is still likely to raise questions.
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