Vuzix (TSX-V: VZX, OTCQB: VUZI) is a United States multinational technology firm headquartered in Rochester, New York. Founded in 1997, Vuzix manufactures and sells computer display devices and software. Vuzix personal display devices are used for mobile and immersive Augmented Reality applications, such as 3D Gaming, Manufacturing training, and Military tactical equipment.
Vuzix formed in 1997 in Rochester, NY, under the name Interactive Imaging Systems, purchasing the assets of the Virtual Reality company Forte Technologies. The Company has over 50 employees and offices in New York, Japan, and the UK and is the current market leader for video eyewear. Forte was a pioneer during the mid-1990s developing immersive head mounted displays for Virtual Reality and video gaming applications.
In 1997, the Company was hired as a subcontractor to Raytheon, designing display electronics for a digital night vision weapon sight. The development done on this project led to a very small, low power set of display drive electronics that the Company would later build into other products.
In 2001, Vuzix launched its first consumer electronics product, the iCOM personal internet browser. The device was a small handheld PDA with an integrated high resolution microdisplay with Internet access. At the time, the vast majority of Internet-capable devices had small text only screens; the iCOM allowed for full resolution access to the web just as would be seen on a laptop.
For the next few years the company focused its efforts on next generation technologies and building custom display solutions for a variety of customers around the world. In 2005, Vuzix provided a custom high resolution handheld display system that created the 3D imagery for Hitachi's pavilion at the 2005 World’s Fair in Aichi, Japan. The Hitachi Pavilion allowed users to interact with computer generated models and dioramas of endangered species in a "First-of-its-kind" Mixed Reality ride.
In 2005, the company changed its name to Icuiti, in an effort to reflect its new focus on consumer electronics devices. Later that year, Icuiti launched its first product designed specifically for consumers, the V920 Video Eyewear. Designed to plug into portable video devices (DVD players and Archos media player) the V920 was the lightest and smallest wearable display system ever built at the time. The V920 would lead to a line of Video Eyewear products that continue today.
Also in 2005, Icuiti was awarded its first military R&D contract to develop a high resolution monocular display device for viewing tactical maps and video. This development would lead to the Tac-Eye product line, which began rate production in 2009 and is currently used in many major military programs including the Battlefield Air Operations kit.
Vuzix is currently[when?] under contract with DARPA to design and build a next generation heads up display for military ground personnel. The DARPA PCAS program is large R&D program with the goal of allowing the joint tactical air controller the ability to rapidly engage multiple, moving and simultaneous targets within his area of responsibility.
In January 2013, at CES Unveiled, Vuzix Corporation demonstrated working models of its new M100 Smart Glasses, the official press event of CES. Rated as one of the five top gadgets expected at CES by CNBC and given the CES Innovations award, the Vuzix Smart Glasses M100, expected to ship in second half of 2013, will enable wearers to access data and content from an iOS or Android smart phone from the cloud and ‘hands free’.. The m100 was officially released in December 2013 for $1000: double the original announced price.
- Vuzix created the first video eyewear to support stereoscopic 3D for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Augmented Reality Eyeware
- Vuzix created the first commercially produced pass-through augmented reality headset, the Wrap 920AR. The Wrap 920AR has two VGA video displays and two cameras that work together to provide the user a view of the world which blends real world inputs and computer generated data.
- During the Consumer Electronic Show in 2011, Vuzix announced the Raptyr. The Raptyr is a see-through augmented reality display prototype that will be the first consumer product of its kind when it reaches the market in 2011[dated info].
- The STAR 1200 is the first See-Through Augmented Reality display to be mass-produced and is scheduled to be released in August 2011.[dated info]
- The Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 are scheduled for commercial release in late 2013. Vuzix describes the M100 as the world’s first, commercially available, hands free display and cloud connected communications system. The Vuzix M100 contains a virtual display with integrated camera and powerful processing engine, running the Android OS . Users will be able to connect wirelessly to their smartphone (iOS or Android) or other compatible devices. The M100 is also powerful enough to connect directly to the Internet, run applications and games itself. When connected to a smartphone, users will be able to engage with existing and future applications such texts, video, email, mapping, and audio. As a hands free accessory with integrated camera/display functionality, Vuzix smart glasses will let users answer the phone with a visual address book and enable applications from text messaging and email to visual navigation (via an integrated GPS and head tracker) along with more advanced features like video recording . The interactive head tracking and integrated HD camera, combined with applications on the M100 and a smartphone linked to the Cloud, empower smartphone based augmented reality applications.
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