Augmentation

Through the looking glass, one subsystem at a time.

A Conversation With Paul Travers of Vuzix

with 6 comments

I just had a very interesting conversation with Paul Travers, CEO of Vuzix.

Paul explained several things to me, including that it was a mistake on their part to keep a name so similar to the AV920 Wrap when creating the Wrap 920. The Wrap product line is distinct from those previously shown, including the AV920 Wrap. There is no denying that the pictures of the Wrap series now posted on the Vuzix website do suggest that, when it is released, it will be far and away the most attractive looking “video eyewear” device to be brought to market. Paul also confirmed that there will be a stereo camera pair, as well as other accessories, for the Wrap series devices. I’ve seen a picture, and I don’t think people will be disappointed with the approach that they’ve taken for attaching cameras to the device.

The most important part of the conversation was that in which Paul assured me that Vuzix will not be abandoning the optically transparent see-through display market, and that we have a great deal to look forward to. He reaffirmed their commitment to the Augmented Reality market, and told me that he was confident that their products would continue to be well ahead of the curve and offer features unheard of at their price point. Confirming what I’d heard from people like Joe Ludwig, Robert Rice and Ori Inbar, he told me that the AV920 Wrap was an imperfect device, and that he thought it better not to release a product that didn’t meet his company’s own high standards, rather than releasing something which he thinks would have let people down. He reiterated that it had been a mistake to keep a name so similar to that of the AV920 Wrap, said that he regretted having left the AV920 Wrap up on their website for as long as they did after having decided not to release it, and also admitted that there should have been more clarification when the Wrap line was re-envisioned as it was. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have been told.

Having had this reassuring conversation with Paul, I can tell you that I still expect to see great things come out of Vuzix (if anything, my expectation are now higher). Though I’m still quite disappointed by having to continue waiting for a true consumer-oriented see-through HMD, and though I do feel a little led-on, I expect that when we do see one from Vuzix, it will far exceed the expectations initially set by the AV920 Wrap prototype shown at the last CES. More than anything, I was reassured by the frankness with which Paul admitted the unintentional mistakes that had been made in handling the separation of the Wrap line from their ongoing optically transparent display research and development. They’ve been at this for a long time, and I’m convinced that Vuzix would never squander their hard-earned credibility by deliberately deceiving their customers.

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Written by bzerk

October 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm

6 Responses

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  1. [...] with 10 comments Note: When you’re done reading this, please see my followup post. [...]

  2. Ok, that sounds great, Vuzix back in the race. While I wasn’t happy with the field of view or the cosmetic design of the transparent wearables from Vuzix I did try, I was impressed that a) they worked b) were lightweight and c) they were good enough to handle the stresses of being accessible on the show floor of CES.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed. All of the people I met at Vuzix were very nice, and I really want them to succeed. A great part of the “omg wow” potential of mobile AR is going to rely on the glasses. I can’t wait until they are ready for prime time.

    :;thumbsup:: on getting in touch with Paul for the follow up Noah. Rock on.

    Robert

    Robert Rice

    October 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm

  3. I think you are being especially nice to Travers having led on the augmented reality about quantum optics for soo long.. I’m actually quite annoyed.

    ron

    October 23, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    • Nah, just being honest. I’ve met Paul in person several times, and I’ve had hands-on experiences with the various wearables. I also met Paul at ISMAR 09 this past week. Vuzix is definitely back on the ball, and the de facto leader in the commercial/consumer space. The other companies have great technology too, but far behind Vuzix in terms of bringing that tech to the market.

      I expect to see some killer announcements from Vuzix over the next year.

      Robert Rice

      October 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    • That’s fair. You’re entitled to your opinion. I obviously felt led on, too, but Paul apologized, and I think it was an honest mistake. They weren’t ready to show their new design, and they didn’t take the original down. As for the so-called “quantum optics,” I never took that name for anything other than a branding gimick. All that said, Paul showed me something at ISMAR that, while not unique, proved to me that they are working in the right direction with their optical see-through display development, and that they aren’t dawdling about it.

      Lastly, in the interest of full disclosure, I should add that Vuzix has since sent me a CamAR unit to evaluate and use in my own experiments with the VR920s that I purchased some time ago. This won’t stop me from voicing any criticisms of their products though, and judging from the Wrap unit that I tried on briefly at ISMAR, I will have criticisms. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and I know first-hand that Vuzix has some promising tech in the works, and is working harder than any of the other firms to get great head-worn display units into the hands of consumers. For that, I give them a lot of credit. They want to give us what we want, and they are working hard to be able to do so. I’m not out to crucify the best prospect we’ve got for the time being, especially after they’ve honestly acknowledged their mistake, and I think learned something from being called out on it. In the meantime, when the Wrap 920 ships, I will buy or borrow a pair, and I’ll tell you honestly what I think of it.

      bzerk

      October 24, 2009 at 12:28 am

  4. Noah,

    As I’m sure you’re aware, they carry Vuzix over at DataVision, (corner of 5th Ave. & 39th).

    http://www.datavis.com

    They always have demo models out on display, as I’m sure they will when the Wrap 920 is released. I will try them out there, and consider buying a pair.

    I thank you for running this piece as it clarified some misunderstandings I had about the AV920 Wrap vs the 920 Wrap. Clearly there is confusion about the products, as Paul realizes.

    Chris Grayson

    October 25, 2009 at 5:45 pm


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