Looking to the future

Holding 58 patents and with 37 additional patents pending, Vuzix Corporation is an award-winning supplier of smart-glasses, augmented reality (AR) glasses and virtual reality (VR) glasses with a strong reputation for innovation

Engaged in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of wearable display devices that are also known as augmented reality Smart Glasses for 20 years, Vuzix has honed its expertise to become a well-reputed and in-demand producer within the wearable display product field. “We were founded in 1997 and have focused on the wearable head mounted displays and technology market since. Originally, we were making big bulky VR headsets, similar to the form factors of the VR devices that are sold today, however our expertise in wearable displays and technology opened the door for substantial business and R&D efforts within the US military,” begins Paul Travers, CEO and President of Vuzix Corporation.

He continues: “In 2012 we sold our military division and began pivoting our business towards smart glasses with an eye on the enterprise sector. In 2014 we introduced our first generation smart glasses for the enterprise space, the Vuzix M100, and in the final quarter of 2016 we introduced our second generation of smart glasses for the enterprise, the Vuzix M300. Today we have 58 patents and 37 patents pending, a strong track record of innovation and a management team with more than 30 years’ experience in wearable display technologies.”

The world’s first commercially available smart glasses, the Vuzix M100 provide the digital world hands-free, offering unprecedented access to information, data collection and more to enhance existing workflows and open new opportunities in industrial, supply chain, remote assistance and medical areas of the business to name a few. Compatible with thousands of existing Android apps, the M100 also has easy access to developer resources that enable the creation of custom apps to suit virtually any need. Providing the features and capabilities of a modern smartphone in a hands-free wearable device, the M100 ushered in the new era of smart glasses and made the way for the M300. Viewed as the next generation of smart glasses for hands-free mobile computing, the M300 delivers a hands-free digital world that provides ground-breaking access to IoT data collection enabling connected workers, Industry 4.0 and Smart Factories. An ergonomically designed and rugged Android-based wearable computer, the M300 is enhanced with monocular display and onboard processor, expandable memory, wireless connectivity capabilities and recording features, which thus ensures it packs a punch on the market as the follow up to the M100.

Other products within Vuzix’s portfolio include the iWear video headphones, which are the winner of multiple Consumer Electronic Show (CES) awards thanks to their ability to provide users with a mobile wearable video display and gaming solution that features dual high-definition displays. With a field of view that is equivalent to a 125-inch home theatre screen viewed from 10 feet away, iWear also supports HDMI inputs so users can hook up to existing systems such as Blu-ray players, tablets, PCs and console systems or even a mobile phone.

Wearability
The Vuzix enterprise smart glasses are built on a foundation of wearability. Unlike some of the competitive products in the market the Vuzix M300 enterprise smart glasses can be mounted and used for left eye dominant (70 per cent of the population) as well as the right eye dominant (30 per cent). The M300 can also be ordered with a variety of mounting options (pictured above) including hard hats, safety glasses, medical headbands and frameless glasses.

Realizing functionality coupled with wearability creates successful business outcomes, the company’s enterprise devices stand out against the competition as they are ergonomic in design and wearable while providing functionality to the mobile worker. “In comparison, on the market there are several competitive products that require a helmet or come in a helmet form, while others weigh over a pound-and-a-half and are not safe or convenient for the mobile worker to use during their eight-hour day shift,” notes Paul Boris, COO of Vuzix Corporation.

User comfort
“Our smart glasses have captured the imagination of the manufacturing sector and the reasons for this start with the wearability; more specifically, is the device comfortable and versatile enough to be worn all shift? Can it be worn on the right or left eye, high or low in the users’ field of view and with or without a hard hat? Now that operators will wear it, will it complement their tasks, making it easier to use than the current systems from a data delivery and capture perspective? Finally, does it allow for seamless interaction? Vuzix wearable solutions provide these capabilities and more; it is simply a better tool in an environment squeezed for productivity and agility,” he adds.

Today, focused on the enterprise market, which consists of several vertical markets such as biopharma, complex manufacturing, warehousing and logistics field services and insurance inspection, Vuzix continues to be in demand as the industry adoption of smart glasses remains begins to accelerate. “In the area of complex manufacturing, we have seen early and continued success in the automotive, agriculture and aviation markets with firms such as BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Airbus and John Deere. All of which we have announced working deployments with. By way of example, the John Deere partnership showed reduced errors and improved picking speeds and the elimination of the need of a RF scanner within its machinery plant assembly line in Mannheim, Germany. The deployment project between John Deere, Vuzix and Ubimax moved from concept to implementation in only three months; after just two weeks in production, productivity and quality targets were met at the John Deere machinery plant assembly line. Meanwhile, within field services, Lee Company, a regional HVAC company located in the south-eastern part of the US and customer of Vuzix, demonstrated a $20 ROI for every dollar invested in smart glasses in just three months after deployment and hundreds of technicians wear our device,” highlights Paul Boris.

Although its attentions are turned to the enterprise market, the company has seen new and powerful applications emerge that have opened up opportunities within the consumer space to outfit low vision and blind veterans and Americans with smart glasses. Indeed, in August 2017, Vuzix announced that Cyber Timez, a Vuzix VIP partner, had received a purchase authorization in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Program to deliver Cyber Eyez, a smart glasses based visual aid software that will assist American veterans with low vision and blindness as well as wounded warriors and veterans. Expected to span four-to-five years, the project is targeted towards 175,000 American veterans and injured soldiers with all 42 wounded warrior battalions and 40 army medical centers introducing Cyber Eyez exclusively on the Vuzix M300 to these specific users and their families while also offering assessment, training and technical support services. The US Veterans Affairs Prosthetics and Rehabilitation services covers the cost of the Vuzix smart glasses and the Cyber Eyez software for eligible veterans.

“There are over 10 million low vision and blind Americans in the United States alone according to the National Federation of the Blind. It is heart-warming and a significant business opportunity for Vuzix to team up with the Wounded Warrior Program and Cyber Timez to provide smart glasses that will positively impact the lives of these wounded warriors and veterans and help them find employment,” Paul Travers comments.

Enhancing lives
Providing highly accurate text recognition, Cyber Eyez on the Vuzix M300 enables many American veterans with low vision and blindness to magnify anything in their environment up to 15 times, read any text in more than 100 languages, recognize over 1,000 colors and identify more than 16 billion objects. This product not only enhances their lives by enhancing their sight, but also helps them to regain and maintain their independence by enabling them to resume daily tasks.

Another recent development for the company is its partnership with BlackBerry, in which Vuzix’s M300 smart glasses will be used to enable IT departments to manage and secure data. Deployed with BlackBerry unified endpoint management (UEM) software, the company’s smart glasses will enable millions of employees to communicate clearly and access critical data without interruption from the task at hand.

“These recent developments are just the beginning of the broad range of applications that can be developed around smart glasses to impact businesses, education, healthcare and consumers. While most people are aware of the industrial internet of things, I like to talk more about the industrial internet of people. As these devices become even lighter and easier to wear, almost any scenario where someone might benefit from instant access to information, analytics, instructions, data reporting or collaboration will find these devices highly desirable,” Paul Travers comments.

Toshiba project
One example of these benefits could be seen at TSE 2017, where Vuzix’s VIP partner LogistiVIEW recently demonstrated pharmaceutical picking, receiving and drug dispensation workflows with the Vuzix M300. With drug supply compliance one of the major topics impacting the pharmaceutical industry today, LogistiVIEW’s AR platform can be used for vision picking, packing and audit as well as capturing serial numbers. Furthermore, the platform also features multiple barcode scan and capture, indoor navigation, voice prompts and photo and video capture. Looking at a future that is ripe with opportunities, Vuzix anticipates a period of growth and expansion as the enterprise market, which is moving from POC to deployment, should be well into the adoption phase. “Over the next 12 to 18 months, large and small companies alike will have figured out how wearable smart glasses play a role in their organization to reduce errors, improve processes and save money on the bottom line,” says Paul Boris.

With a pivotal year ahead for Vuzix and the entire smart glasses industry, the company will remain focused on the enterprise markets as the M300 continues to ramp up production and it continues to deliver growing numbers of smart glasses into this respective field. Additionally, the company has completed the process of transitioning its M300 manufacturing line to Asia with the goal of expanding its margin profile and providing additional flexibility in its ability to respond to client orders. On top of this, the company has more than 250 enterprise value added resellers and it continues to pursue additional distribution channels with the aim of increasing its global reach.

Another notable development for Vuzix that will remain at the heart of its activities throughout 2017 is its $1.1 million development agreement with Toshiba for a customized smart glasses device. A confirmation of the company’s capabilities at creating best in class solutions, the project is set Corporationto see volume production by the fourth quarter of 2017. With a growing portfolio of products and 95 patents and patents pending in total, the company continues broadening its intellectual property throughout this year, particularly in terms of optics and display engine areas.

Connected world
As demand for the company’s products continue to grow, Vuzix qualified and released its automated waveguide replication equipment to the plant floor in the second quarter of 2017. This development will not only allow the company to produce in volume, but will also improve the precision and performance of these advanced optics. When the new waveguide products are released, Vuzix will continue to lead the way when it comes to helping evolve the world of mobile computing and AR technology that connects the digital world and real world through smart glasses with the expected commercial launch of the Vuzix Blade 3000 fashion smart glasses in Q1 2018.

“Looking further ahead, our long-term strategic goal is to be a mainstay in the enterprise market and also have a hand at the consumer market, both within the low vision and blind community as well as traditional technology consumers. We can see our company not only making wearable smart glass devices in the enterprise and consumer space for Vuzix, but also for select OEM customers. We see smart glasses transcending into our society, both in the enterprise and consumer space, to the point where smart glasses could eventually replace the smart phone,” Paul Travers concludes.

Vuzix Corporation
Products: Augmented reality and virtual reality smart glasses