Intel's latest publicity play may have backfired.
The chipmaker recently announced a new pair of smart glasses, Vaunt, with a slim profile unlike anything else on the market.
But while it may have generated some excitement in the press, Vaunt has vexed major players in the emerging augmented reality space. Sources told CNBC that the product appears to rely heavily on its aesthetics and a limited release -- it provided a prototype of the glasses to only one outlet, The Verge, which formed the basis for all subsequent news reports.
This strategy masks business and technical shortcomings, according to five people with extensive involvement in the augmented reality industry. Two executives at augmented reality companies said the device resembled a science project or science experiment. These people requested anonymity because of business arrangements with Intel which they are not authorized to talk about.
As smartphone sales are starting to decline after more than a decade of growth, everybody in the tech industry is trying to anticipate the next big platform shift. One candidate is augmented reality, sometimes called mixed reality, where computer-generated images are superimposed over views of the real world. Today the technology shows up on some smartphones like Apple's iPhones, but a lot of companies are working on glasses that would provide a more immersive experience.
Apple, Microsoft and Google have invested heavily in augmented reality software, and all three companies plus Facebook and Amazon are reportedly working on hardware as well. Intel, meanwhile, has struggled to regain the consumer appeal it had during the personal-computing era after missing major opportunities with mobile phones. Any misstep in augmented reality could cause it to miss this wave, too.
Intel declined to comment.