Intel has confirmed that it has plans to shut down the New Devices Group (NDG) and cease development on the Vaunt smart glasses project revealed earlier this year. Reports from our sources state that the closure will probably result in “some layoffs” from the team that was reportedly around 200 people.
“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.”
It was entirely unclear how Intel planned to take the Vaunt glasses to the market, though our sources pointed out that Intel wanted to have a partner with retail expertise. The lead for Vaunt, Jerry Baustina, stated back in December that Intel was “working with key ecosystem hardware providers whether they’re frames or lenses and things like that. Because we believe there’s a whole channel to people who wear glasses that’s already there.”
Intel has had it rough creating consumer products directly. In the past, it has partnered with companies like Oakley and Tag Heuer in producing wearables, but neither found mass-market success. Since the company was not able to find a similar partner to handle Vaunt, it was wise to choose to not bring the product to the market. That’s not Intel’s game, besides, CEO Brian Krzanich probably has better concerns like the ongoing worries with Spectre and the rumour about Apple planning to ditch its chips totally.
Yet, it is disappointing to think that Vaunt will not get a chance to finish development. Looking at the basic prototype, a heads-up display that appears only when it’s needed is actually a riveting technology. It was an augmented reality of some sort that didn’t try to give you magical 3D objects, rather, it gave basic contextual information.