While Google Glass wasn’t a hit with consumers, Intel’s Vaunt—aka Superlite—smart glasses that it showed off earlier this year looked more like the futuristic wearable we’d been waiting for. Sadly, it seems we’ll never find out for certain. Intel has confirmed that it plans to shutter the New Devices Group (NDG), which had been working on the device.
Formed back in 2013, the division was responsible for the development of fitness trackers and smart glasses, including the Vaunt. The glasses contained a laser projector in its frame that directed light off a lens and into a user’s retina. The red, monochrome 400 x 150 image would only be visible if a wearer looked toward the lower right corner of their visual field, where it would display basic notifications, text messages, and navigation info.
First reported by The Information, the group’s closure will likely result in some layoffs for its team of around 200 people. In a statement to The Verge, Intel blamed “market dynamics” for the decision.
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 [the codename for Vaunt] 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.
Sources say that Intel had been looking for a partner with retail experience to bring its glasses to market, but it seems the interest just wasn't there. The Vaunt looked promising, but it’s possible that companies felt it wouldn't have mass appeal in its current state, especially if it shipped with a large price tag.
Google Glass might not have been well received by members of the public, but it found a place as an enterprise-focused product, being repurposed in factories owned by companies such as Boeing, GE, AGCO, and DHL. The limited functionality of the Vaunt would likely have made the glasses unsuitable in such scenarios.
There are other companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Vuzix, that are working on smart glasses, so we might still see a product that lives up to our expectations—though it could take a few more years before it arrives.