I put on a pair of sunglasses, saw an app running in front of my face, and didn't feel like a complete and utter dork in public. The Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses look like a slightly less attractive pair of Oakleys from afar, but have Google Glass-style power under the hood. The company says this "prosumer" model will cost $1,000 once they ship in the back half of 2017.
The Blade 3000 is untethered from your phone, but it's Bluetooth enabled for audio. It hides a few ports, including a microSD expansion slot and Micro USB port, though you can also transfer data over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. There's an 8MP camera that takes 1080p video, and the whole system runs on Android 5.0 using an quad-core ARM CPU.
Why You Should Care
Now you can use AR — in public — without the shame that accompanies more enterprise-focused models. The Blade 3000 looks like a pair of sunglasses unless you get really close. You can use the glasses to check social media, take calls or get location-aware content. My favorite suggestion came from a Vuzix representative who told me that I could use the Blade 3000 to see golf course mapping and distance data without telling my playing partners that I was wearing smart sunglasses.
Vuzix is selling this as its consumer and enterprise model, though it expects to add and change features based on feedback from both types of users.
I used the Blade immediately following a series of enterprise-focused AR headsets, so they actually felt pretty cool. They're slightly bulkier than regular sunglasses thanks to the touchpad on the side, but they weren't too heavy for my head. I could clearly see a demonstration app that was running through a series of 3D models as soon as I put on the headset, and was pleasantly surprised by the haptic feedback when I scrolled through the main menu. I think I could walk down the street without anyone noticing, as long as I was paying attention to traffic as well as an AR app.
However, I only saw one demo app, so I'm hoping there's a big library for consumer applications by time they come out.
Pricing and Availability
Vuzix plans to release the Blade 3000 in the second half of 2017 for $1,000.