News: Vuzix Previews Smart Glasses Powered by Wearable Computer from Toshiba

Vuzix Previews Smart Glasses Powered by Wearable Computer from Toshiba

A tethered version of the Vuzix M300 smart glasses, developed to pair with wearable computers from Toshiba Corporation, is expected to be available by the first quarter 2018, if not sooner.

Vuzix CEO Paul Travers, a member of the NR50, told Next Reality that they recently delivered the first pre-production units to Toshiba, who has them on display at the CEATEC Japan, an electronics and IT conference. Vuzix disclosed the development agreement with Toshiba subsidiary Toshiba Client Solutions earlier this year.

Image via Vuzix

The revised M300 connects as an input and output peripheral via USB-C connection to the dynaEdge Mobile Mini-PC, which runs Windows 10. The dynaEdge provides all of the computing and battery power in this symbiotic relationship, displaying content to the M300's display while accessing, the GPS, accelerometer, and camera of the M-300 for use in its software. Add a wireless keyboard and mouse (which are bundled with the dynaEdge) and users have a full mobile computing environment.

It shows Vuzix is paving the way in the whole wearable display space. If you look at competing companies, I don't know of somebody who has got a USB type C solution available at this juncture. I don't know of anybody who is getting ready to announce a pair that looks like sunglasses, either.

— Paul Travers, CEO of Vuzix

The smart glasses and computer combination represents Toshiba's hardware offering to enterprises. The dynaEdge carries enough battery capacity to sustain itself and run the M-300 for an eight-hour shift. With its sensor array, the M300 can share a worker's environment to a remote colleague via Skype for Business. Toshiba's mini PC can use the GPS and accelerometer on the M300 to help workers locate physical assets, such as pipelines, in the field, or, using geofencing, it can lock down the device when it is an area it should not be.

Image via Toshiba Corporation

"From an immediate perspective, having a Toshiba carrying a product with their name on it and your name on it at the same time, and them buying in volume from you, and this is the beginnings of them rolling out production. So, it's gonna represent, I think, a reasonable jump in revenue just from the Toshiba relationship," said Travers.

While made to pair with the dynaEdge, since it is a generic USB device, it can plug into other devices, namely Android smartphones. As a result, Travers sees the potential for the tethered version of the M300 to enable hands-free AR experiences with Google's ARCore platform with "practically zero lag" due to available high-speed communications.

"You can see how powerful this could be. And the fact that most Android devices are coming with USB-C, it opens up some new capabilities, to tie into the ARCore, for example, on a wearable device without having to step five or six years into the future, with everything integrated into the glasses -- which will happen, ultimately," said Travers in an interview with Next Reality.

While the Toshiba agreement has netted a large share of the Vuzix's revenue stream this year, the company has a number of other initiatives on display at CEATEC Japan. They have partnered with prominent Japanese mobile carrier NTT Domoco to integrate Sebastien, an AI concierge similar to Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri, into the M300. The Ricoh Theta, a 360 degree camera with a voice-controlled remote shutter, can now stream pictures and video feed to the M300. Asuka Labs is using the Vuzix iWear to demonstrate is Asuka Vision application for viewing 360 degree photos and video. Their forthcoming Blade 3000 devices are on display.

The Vuzix Blade 3000. Image via Vuzix

"The first half of this year was bigger than last year. I think you're going to see that continue to grow at Vuzix. The stuff that we're showing at CAETAC, it's a wonderful example of a lot of stuff that's going on, but that's the tip of the iceberg," said Travers.

The enterprise deployments with the M300, including the relationship with Toshiba, make up a large portion of that iceberg right now, with purchase orders in the hundreds coming from the likes of DHL and John Deere.

"We're an airplane on the runway that's getting ready to takeoff. I'd be the first guy to say it's lumpy, and I'd love it go faster, but it's happening."

Cover image via Vuzix

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