Google made waves when it launched Google Glass a few years back, but that particular face computer was deemed too creepy by the general public. Google killed Glass in 2015 as a result. Intel hoped not to repeat Google’s mistake when it revealed the Vaunt smart glasses earlier this year. However, Intel is already throwing in the towel. The Vaunt project is dead, and so is the entire division that created it.
Intel started work on the hardware that would become the Vaunt in 2013 when it founded the New Devices Group (NDG). The Vaunt didn’t look like Google Glass or any of the other augmented reality glasses that followed. They were just slightly bulky eyeglasses, but that’s very “in” right now anyway.
Google Glass used a small prism above the wearer’s eye to display images. That contributed to its unnerving cyborg appearance. The Vaunt used a tiny laser projector to paint images onto the user’s retina. It could beam a 400×150 pixel image into the eye, but it was only red and monochrome rather than full-color. That limited what information Vaunt could relay, but it was fine for text-based data like messages from your phone and weather alerts.
The image produced by Vaunt was intended to be non-intrusive. The laser would only hit your retina when you glanced toward the corner of your vision where the display appeared. Thus, you could go about your day without being bothered by constant images cluttering your vision.
Intel didn’t provide specific details on the reason for the closure, but The Information claimed NDG was being shuttered for lack of investment. Intel stopped short of confirming that when it blamed “market dynamics” for the cancellation of Vaunt. That probably means the market dynamic of “no one wants to buy expensive face computers.” It’s hard even to get people to buy a smartwatch and wear it on a daily basis. If smartwatches are hard, then smart glasses are almost impossible. Reports claim that Intel’s shutdown of NDG could result in several hundred layoffs, but the company has not commented on that.
Intel’s mistake may have been aiming for consumers. Google Glass died an early death, but the successor “Glass Enterprise” is still available. Some businesses use them, too. Intel’s retina imaging technology might have made more sense as a business solution, and maybe it will still live on in some other products. The Vaunt glasses, though, are dead.
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