In an exclusive interview with The Fly, Vuzix (VUZI) CEO Paul Travers talked about the company, the augmented reality industry, expectations for 2022, COVID-related impacts and much more.
DEMAND FOR SMART-GLASSES: The ongoing pandemic has brought about changes in the economy that has benefitted several sectors, including the smart glasses and waveguides space as hospitals increased their use to provide remote medical support with infectious zone areas. "Osaka Saiseikai Izuo Hospital [in Osaka, Japan] has certain areas that have been locked down because of patients with COVID, allowing only a few people to go in to minimize exposure," Vuzix CEO Paul Travers explained to The Fly. "The people in those areas use our smart glasses to get remote support from doctors who are in the hospital but aren't allowed in that zone. It's safer. If you look at the medical world, our glasses are being used in any given day for remote surgeries, knee surgery, medical support. With COVID we're seeing remote operations and remote support in hospitals."
COVID-RELATED IMPACT: Discussing COVID-related impacts with The Fly, Travers explained that Vuzix is "not immune." "Our manufacturing facilities have to work extra hard. We had to monitor the supply chain. Sometimes we don't even get to find out until we call to ask why something didn't get delivered. With that said, we have a tendency to buy in advance. So, we've been in pretty good shape through it all."
"As much as COVID helped a portion of our business with hospital-oriented things, all the supply-related stuff was put on hold. Our glasses are phenomenal tools for picking and packing. Coming out of COVID, some large companies that have distribution channels and have to deal with the pandemic and just keep working have now started using our glasses," the executive added.
GOOD YEAR FOR VUZIX: Last month, Vuzix said it saw "significant year-over-year revenue growth in 2022," a bullish view still maintained by the company's CEO. "2022 is going to be a good year for Vuzix as COVID starts to fade. Our medical side of business is also not slowing down either," Travers said. "I'm confident 2022 is going to be a bigger year by a fair bit than 2021 was. You will see more deals on the distribution channel side of the house. Vuzix has been opening up the channel with partners that sell into vertical markets. Some are warehouse companies."
'SIGNIFICANTLY' UNDERVALUED: CEO Paul Travers believes "the Street significantly undervalues and/or doesn't understand" Vuzix's intellectual property, or IP, position. "We have a patent portfolio. We manufacture and develop our own waveguides – the optics technology that goes into them. Private companies that only manufacture waveguides that are not even in production yet have been purchased by a half billion dollars. If that's only what we did, we should have at least that formal valuation. But that's just a piece of what Vuzix does. I think The Street significantly undervalues and/or doesn't understand the IP position that Vuzix has and that is getting much stronger. We also have business itself that is leader in the space. We are one of the only companies in the smart glasses space that is actually being successful today. I think there's a disconnect in value," the executive explained to The Fly.
"Meet the Company" is The Fly's recurring series of exclusive short interviews with Executive Officers to offer a deeper look inside the company.