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Intel cancels its smart glasses due to lack of investment

The Vaunt would have been the stealthiest smart glasses to date.
Richard Lai, @richardlai
April 19, 2018
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Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

When Intel showed off its Vaunt smart glasses (aka "Superlight" internally) back in February, we had high hopes for a new wave of wearable tech that wouldn't turn us into Borgs. Alas, according to The Information's source, word has it that the chip maker is closing the group responsible for wearable devices which, sadly, included the Vaunt. This was later confirmed by Intel in a statement, which hinted at a lack of investment due to "market dynamics." Indeed, Bloomberg had earlier reported that Intel was looking to sell a majority stake in this division, which had about 200 employees and was valued at $350 million.

To avoid the awkwardness that doomed the Google Glass, Intel took the subtle approach by cramming a retinal laser projector -- along with all the other electronic bits, somehow -- into the Vaunt's ordinary-looking spectacle frame; plus there was no camera on it. The low-power projector would beam a red, monochrome 400 x 150 pixel image into the lower right corner of one's visual field, thus eliminating the need of a protruding display medium.

The Verge added that the projection was designed to be non-intrusive, such that it was only visible if you glanced in that direction. Of course, this would limit the amount of detail that could be shown to the user, but it could still deliver basic notifications, text messages and navigation info.

It's unclear how Intel's withdrawal from the smart glasses market will affect the industry as a whole, but it does mean we're still some time away from seeing something just as impressively stealthy. Meanwhile, other tech giants like Amazon and Apple are still working hard on their own take on smart glasses, so here's hoping these will be worth the wait.

The following is the full Intel statement sent to Engadget:

"Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market. The Superlight project is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don't support further investment."

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