While consumer-grade smartglasses are the holy grail for tech companies, smartglasses maker Vuzix knows where its bread is buttered, and that's in the enterprise segment.
As such, the company used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 as its stage for unveiling the M4000, the latest product in its M-series line of enterprise smartglasses. Vuzix plans to begin volume production of the device in the second half of 2020 at a price of $2,499.
The M4000 is the second wearable from Vuzix to include the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, following the M400, which launched last year.
"We are delighted to see Vuzix introduce its second Snapdragon XR1-based smart glasses product within the past year," said Said Bakadir, the director of product management for Qualcomm, in a statement provided to Next Reality. "Qualcomm Technologies is a strong believer in the smartglasses segment for the enterprise and we're glad to have our XR technology help drive this forward along with Vuzix' expertise as they continue to deliver innovations to their family of smart glasses products."
The differentiating feature of the M4000 over the M400 is its fully-transparent waveguide display. Otherwise, the M4000 will match the M400 camera with 12.8-megapixel still images and 4K video. Rated IP67 for dust and water protection, the smartglasses will also include noise-canceling microphones and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port.
"This is our first product incorporating our latest advanced waveguide technologies with vastly improved optical performance and efficiency, along with reduced sizing," said Paul Travers, president and CEO at Vuzix.
"As powerful a solution as the M400 is for a large percentage of our customer base, we do have numerous significant customers across a wide range of industry verticals that require a completely non-occluded device ("see-through") for many of their critical manufacturing and remote assistance applications. As we move further into 2020, we expect the M4000 to become a key solution within our smartglasses product family."
In addition to its well-tread enterprise segment, Vuzix is also entering the niche market of AR wearables for swimmers with its Smart Swim wearable, the first product from Vuzix Labs, the company's rapid development and engineering wing.
Smart Swim is an attachment for swimming goggles that consists of a full-color AR display, a camera, and a wearable computer that attaches to most swim goggles. Running on an Android-based operating system, the device includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, a compass, head tracking sensors, an internal battery, and a USB port.
The device is not only capable of tracking swimmer workouts, including time, distance, and laps, but can also record video footage of workouts and even stream video from the included video player. A companion mobile app enables coaches to connect with swimmers, who can download workouts and preview them.
"Vuzix Labs Smart Swim is the world's first full-featured and most advanced smart swimming goggles to hit the consumer market," said Travers in a separate statement. "Smart Swim is a heads-up display for swimmers that provides in-depth workout status and information in real-time, as well as the capability to stream video content during swimming workouts. It provides a new level of inspiration and entertainment for athletes during training."
Customers can pre-order the product on Vuzix's website for $499, with shipping scheduled to commence in February.
So far, the AR for swimmers market is occupied by a small number of players, including Form Swim Goggles, which launched last year with a no-frills see-through display at a relatively low price of $199.
With its years of experience in AR wearables, Vuzix has the opportunity to appeal swimmers with a more robust display and the addition of camera at a mildly higher price point.
Along with Vuzix's facial recognition solution for its enterprise/consumer Blade smartglasses, Vuzix is building a case for its smartglasses in law enforcement as well. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Public Safety Communications Research division will soon showcase a traffic stop solution that uses computer vision to instantly recognize a driver's license and assess the motorist's legal standing
"NIST's PSCR Division has developed a powerful use case for first responders using the Vuzix Blade smartglasses," said Travers in separate statement. "Vuzix continues to steadily expand its presence in the security and first responder space and NIST's demonstration represents the latest example of this expansion."
The only thing missing from Vuzix's presence at CES this year is anything new for the mainstream consumer segment. Last year, the company unveiled fashion-forward smartglasses design to shareholders that brings to mind North's Focals.
For now, it's apparent that the enterprise segment will continue to drive Vuzix forward as the company explores early adopter use cases for consumers.