Innovation

Lenovo brings AR to business users with AI-powered smart glasses at CES 2017

Lenovo's New Glass C200 will be available in June, and aims to tap enterprise users. The company also unveiled a new digital assistant powered by Alexa, and other new hardware.

Lenovo's first-ever smart glasses combine augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to help business users improve their workflow, the company announced Tuesday at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The Lenovo New Glass C200 operates through a user's smartphone. It includes a lightweight Glass Unit, which runs on Linux and uses only one eye, "enhancing a user's perception of 'mixed reality' while viewing the AR world simultaneous to the real world," according to a press release. It also includes a Pocket Unit, which a user plugs into their phone and connects to via a New Glass app. This allows the device to run with enhanced CPU performance and an LTE connection, the company stated.

The unit gathers information in a user's field of vision, and can "provide step-by-step instructions for repair, identify disabled equipment and trouble shoot issues with a remote colleague while your hands are free," the press release said, making it a useful tool for the enterprise.

The smart glasses use AI recognition software called Lenovo NBD Martin to identify images and label them in real time. NBD Martin collects and analyzes data from the smart glass camera, sensors, and user history, and combines this information with the user's voice commands, gestures, and selections to act as an AI assistant that can provide information and tools for a job, the company stated.

SEE: CES 2017 Special Coverage (CNET) | CES 2017 (TechRepublic) | CES 2017: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet)

Lenovo also announced the software platform Lenovo NBD Titan, which allows users to quickly create and edit AR content, even as novice developers. This platform could be useful in the home improvement and interior design field, for example, as it offers an AR space to experiment with different architecture and design elements, the press release stated.

Some 39% of companies are already using AR, according to a 2016 Tech Pro Research report. And, 67% of companies not already using AR said they were considering it for their organization.

The New Glass C200 will compete for business users with the Vuzix M300, the ODG R-7 Smart Glasses, and the Epson MOVERIO. Apple is also reportedly considering a push into smart glasses. However, while pricing information is not yet available, it's possible that the New Glass C200 may be a more cost-effective option since it operates via a smartphone.

Customized versions of New Glass C200 are currently available here. The company expects mass production to start in June 2017.

Along with the smart glasses, Lenovo announced the Lenovo Smart Assistant, a digital personal assistant that leverages Amazon Alexa's cloud-based voice services. "Built in collaboration with Amazon, the elegantly designed Lenovo Smart Assistant recognizes users' voice commands to conduct web searches, play music, create lists, calendar reminders and much more," according to a press release. The assistant is designed to run Lenovo smart home devices, as well as other third-party products.

The company also unveiled Lenovo Smart Storage, a digital storage solution with 6TB1 capacity, dual-band wireless access, and multi-device auto-sync capabilities, according to a press release. It also features integrated facial recognition software for organizing stored photos.

Additionally, Lenovo showcased new hardware for the enterprise, including the next generation of ThinkPad X1 PCs, and a new Miix 720 Windows tablet.

"Our approach to innovation is to ensure we're constantly evolving and understanding how technology is infused within every individual, business and home," said Gianfranco Lanci, president and chief operating officer of Lenovo, in a press release. "We're dedicated to understanding our customers and will never stop creating better experiences, whether PCs for work, play or gaming, next generation AR/VR innovation or within the smarter home."

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Tuesday at CES 2017, Lenovo announced the launch of its first smart glasses, New Glass C200, which combine AR and AI with the goal of helping business users.

2. The company also unveiled a new digital assistant built with Amazon Alexa, and smart storage options.

3. Lenovo also unveiled new PCs and tablets for enterprise users.

Also see

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Image: Lenovo

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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