Amazon's Alexa voice assistant holds a new job role as a New York-based startup is about to introduce the first-ever voice-enabled augmented reality glasses at CES in Las Vegas. Coming with a hefty price tag at US$1,000, should you consider ditching your dusty old-style glasses for this pair of promising innovation?
Vuzix Corp is set to unveil its Blade smart glasses that users can instruct to scour the internet for information and display fetched results to the wearer's field of view. According to company chief executive Paul Travers, the Alexa-activated AR glasses will be available to the public by the second quarter for about US$1,000.
Amazon has confirmed that Vuzix's wearable technology will be the first smart glasses with Alexa, which is part of the e-commerce firm's program that allows third-party hardware manufacturers to integrate the artificial intelligence-powered personal digital assistant into their devices. This apparently gives Amazon the opportunity to peddle its online products and services to other markets and new customers.
Should you buy it?
The Vuzix Blade smart glasses' whopping US$1,000 price is clearly too much to shell out for many. Travers concedes to its "high price point" but hopes to accomplish "the ultimate goal to have it under US$500" by 2019.
With Vuzix's AR glasses, wearers can take advantage of Alexa's integration in countless ways possible, such as requests for a map or sports scores on the glasses. However, they have to sign up for an Amazon account to leverage the technology.
The AR glasses industry has not been highly saturated or dominated by any particular players at the moment, but Travers believes "everyone is going to come out with glasses sooner or later", including Amazon.
Google pioneered this technology years ago with the Google Glass prototype before it ventured into beefing up its Pixel smartphones with AR features and launching the Daydream View VR headset. Apple Inc is slated to release its AR glasses by 2020 as reported.
Amazon publicly launched Alexa in 2014. Originally designed for Amazon's own products, it has since found its way to hundreds of third-party technologies like Ford's SYNC-enabled cars, Martian mVoice smartwatches, Nucleus Intercom pager, iHome AVS16 alarm clock and LG's Smart Instaview refrigerator, among many others.