Smartglas manufacturer Vuzix made a big splash on CES 2018 with the introduction of Amazon's Alexa voice assistant among the AR superpowers of their consumer-centered Blade smartglasses.
Now is the time to tell Alexa to make room, as Vuzix is With the help of Google Assistant support for Blade.
The app is now available through the Vuzix App Store. Page owners need a Google Account and at least version 1.2.0 of the Blade companion app to get started.
Vuzix also recommends Bluetooth or wired headphones to take advantage of voice activated features. While the blade has a built-in microphone for voice input, the unit has no built-in speaker for assistant audio output. Fortunately, Blade comes with its own Bluetooth headphones and a third-party wireless headphone jack.
When the app is installed, users can choose to set the assistant as the default voice assistant in the device settings. From there, users can wake the assistant with a three-finger long touch on the touchpad. The command works from any screen, regardless of which app is active, so users can talk to the assistant without changing apps.
However, Vuzix notes that the app is an experimental building and not officially supported by Google, so some features may not work. According to a company president, many of the basic features are functional, but more advanced features, those that need access to Google's services, may not work. In other words, users can expect to ask Google to check weather or return general search results, but it is not possible to access personal calendar events or cast videos on a Chromecast-connected TV.
Despite the somewhat rogue app's nature, support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Vuzix Blade gives some additional common appeals and more differentiation from the main competitor in the consumer's smart glass space, North's Focals, which only supports Alexa when enabled of the handheld Loop controller. (Considering that Amazon has an investment share in the north, do not hold the spirit of the addition of Google Assistant to Focals.)
Vuzix can also claim better third-party app support, with Accuweather, Yelp, Pandora and Spotify among the other common applications available for Blade. So far, third-party app support for Focals (other than Alexa) is limited to Uber.
Obviously, there are many other considerations between the two options for smart-grade consumer quality, such as style, functionality and price. While the market is currently limited, the landscape is prime to expand exponentially over the next few years, with technical giants like Apple and Facebook expected to enter the fray and launch as Nreal ready to present their own berries on the AR portable.