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Hands (and Eyes)-On with Vuzix Smart Glasses

Vuzix was sporting its Smart Glasses M100 at CES 2013, calling it the "world's first" hands-free smartphone display. It's a wearable personal display and communications system for linking users to their mobile device's data and the cloud. It runs on Android and connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The device slides over one ear and one eye, and isn't heavy by any means. It comprises of three components – the main body, the adjustable boom, and the WQVGA color display. On this latter component is a 1080p HD camera for taking pictures and video, a feature that could prove troublesome in the hands of perverts and thieves looking for credit card and PIN numbers.

The actual display is surprisingly sharp and easy to read even with both eyes open. Think of it as sitting at the back of a movie theater: everything is crisp and bright, and you don't have to strain to read text. Thus, it would seem possible to pump media into the headset like movies, TV shows and what not, making for an awesome mobile video screen.

According o the company, it lets you answer the phone via a visual address book, read text messages and email, use visual navigation and basic augmented reality (AR) applications. This gadget supports downloadable applications too spanning email to video recording to even gaming.

The M100 also sports an integrated head tracker which keeps the virtual display leveled when moving your head just slightly (meaning if you nod just slightly in a yes or no position, the screen doesn't move), or locks the display and moves it along with your head if you're turning to look at something, or looking up into the sky, etc.

The Vuzix M100 is slated to arrive later this year, but how it will be marketed is up in the air at this point. A Vuzix rep said that there are social aspects to consider such as secretly recording video, walking in public areas using the device, actually driving a car with the headset in place and so on. Reception has been outstanding, the rep said, but the company needs to do more research and come up with a suitable marketing strategy.

Here are a few related announcements:

* Vuzix Unveils its M100 Smart Glasses at International Consumer Electronics Show (pdf)
* Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses Ready for App Development (pdf)

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