Damn, I’ve never seen a tech company give up on a project so quickly since Microsoft bet big on the Kin, but Intel may have taken the cake as it announces the closure of the division responsible for its intriguing Vaunt smart glasses. Just five years after creating the New Devices Group, Intel is shuttering it, and unfortunately, that will also mean the loss of an estimated 200 jobs, according to The Information, who first reported the closure.
The group is perhaps best known for a pair of smart glasses, known internally as Vaunt, which use a low-power laser to beam a low-resolution image into your peripheral vision, directly onto your retina. Had they come to market the glasses would have been easy to ignore, non-intrusive, and would have looked like a “normal” pair of eyeglasses compared to other attempts to colonize your face with technology like Google Glass. Where have I heard that before?
The company’s high hopes for the project, outlined in The Verge’s exclusive look at the Vaunt prototype glasses in February of this year, included gesture control and integration with Amazon’s Alexa. While they looked like some sort of protective eyewear for people working with 3D printers, it was easy to see future iterations achieve a more stylish aesthetic. But at some point between The Verge’s first look and now Intel decided the big project, and the group that developed it, wasn’t worth it.
In February the company had said it would announce a developer-focused early access program for the Vaunt later this year, though it was simultaneously looking to sell a majority stake in the division responsible for the AR glasses, according to Bloomberg.
Apparently neither plan worked out. “Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market,” Intel said in a statement to The Information regarding the division closure. We’ve reached out to Intel for further clarification.