Earlier this year Intel revealed plans for its latest project which was a pair of smart glasses. The Vaunt smart glasses would start development shortly after it was announced but Intel has released a new statement where they say that they will be shutting down the New Devices Group (NDG). This group would have been responsible for the manufacturing of the Vaunt smart glasses. The closure was reported by The Information and the closure will also result in some lay-offs from the team of about 200 people.
Intel released a statement in which they explained why they decided to stop the development of the Vaunt smart glasses. They stated that even though the company is continuously working on new technologies and experiences, not every design develops into a product that they choose to take to the market. The Superlight (codename for Vaunt) project is an example of how Intel developed something truly different that is aimed at the consumer. Despite the retraction of the smart glasses, they will continue to explore and invent other technologies. They further stated that some of these developments simply do not support further investment. It leads to making tough choices.
There has always been a lack of clarity regarding the Vaunt smart glasses along with how Intel intended on bringing it to the market. This could have been a sign of the retraction of the glasses. Sources did claim, however, that Intel was looking for a partner with enough retail expertise before they started development. The lead for Vaunt, Jerry Bautista, stated that Intel was working with key ecosystem hardware providers which could include frames, lenses, or any other headset accessory. He further stated that he believed there is a whole channel to people who wear glasses that are already available on the market.
Intel has found it difficult to create products that are aimed directly at the consumer. It has already partnered with companies like Oakley or Tag Heuer in the wearables space but none of these products ever found success in the mass-market. If the company was unable to find a similar partner to handle Vaunt, then it isn’t a surprise that it chose not to introduce them to the market directly. That isn’t Intel’s style. Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, probably has other worries like the concerns regarding Spectre along with the rumors surrounding Apple wanting to ditch its chips altogether.
For many, it is disappointing that Vaunt won’t even get to see the end of the development stages. That it won’t get a taste of the consumer market. Those who have tried a basic prototype mentioned that the technology is fascinating as it only appears when you want to see it. It was a clever take on AR technology that didn’t try to give you magic 3D objects, but practical contextual information instead. Maybe another company will try to bring something similar to life but until then, the prototype is the only look we will ever have of these glasses.
April 18, 2018