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Today Avegant is revealing Glyph, the company’s vision for a consumer head mounted display which utilizes their virtual retinal display (VRD) technology. Glyph transforms from a pair of headphones to a head mounted display in seconds with a smart convertible design.

While Avegant has been showing their impressive virtual retinal display technology since October, they’ve been quick to note that it was only a proof of concept. Today they’ve taken the wraps off the consumer concept for their HMD which they’re calling Glyph.

Glyph uses a smart convertible design that houses the VRD in a fairly normal looking pair of over-ear headphones. Flip down the headband and suddenly you’re looking through the company’s virtual retinal display. Avegant says they’ll be showing off the Glyph prototype next month at CES 2014.

Avegant intends for Glyph to be “source agnostic;” able to connect to a wide swath of modern devices like game consoles, smartphones, and computers. The HMD will include integrated head tracking, according to the company.

“Avegant has made some great progress improving core technology that will make generalized virtual worlds possible,” goes a quote in the press release by Phillip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, making it sound like the company doesn’t want to ignore the potential of Glyph for virtual reality gaming.

With a limited 45 degree field of view, Glyph probably won’t be a direct competitor to the Oculus Rift. After talking with Avegant last month at Engadget Expand 2013, it seems like Avegant might be interested in eventually utilizing their tech for immersive virtual reality—for now, supporting existing games and media out of the box is their goal.

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Today Avegant has also announced that the Kickstarter for Glyph will begin on January 22nd with pricing staring at $499. Glyph will have its own internal battery and ship with a HDMI/MHL cable, according to the company.

In November we met up with Avegant at Engadget Expand 2013 to check out their virtual retinal display technology. Here are my thoughts about what I saw:

avegant vrd hmd
Avegant’s Pre-Glyph Prototype HMD

I saw two different demos using the Avegant HMD prototype. The first of which was a series of standard side-by-side 3D videos, running from a laptop, which absolutely blew me away.

At one point I was looking at a sea turtle in shallow coral waters. Sunlight was beaming down from the surface and illuminating the turtle’s shell in a spectacular way—it was one of the most vivid and natural things I’ve ever seen on any display. The scene before me looked incredibly real, even though the field of view is not at immersive levels.

The image quality was also extremely impressive. The videos I saw looked to be at least 1080p to my eyes, but Avegant told me that they were only 720p, and while the Avegant HMD technically doesn’t have pixels, the micro-mirror array (and thus ‘resolution’) is 1280×800. Perhaps it’s the 100% fill factor, or the more natural light—whatever the case—I’m now a believer that there is more to a display’s quality than resolution. Avegant is definitely on to something special here.

It should be noted that I saw some blurring on around the edges of the image, but Avegant assured me that it would be fixed in future iterations.

Call of Duty: Ghosts didn’t look nearly as good as the side-by-side 3D videos and instead looked closer to what I would expect from a normal 720p display. I noticed some significant color-fringing when turning my head. The discrepancy was jarring… how could the same display look markedly different from one piece of content to the next (I saw absolutely no color fringing with the prior demo)? When I asked about this, Tang told me that Call of Duty: Ghosts unfortunately only runs at 540p on the PS3. He also suspected that the signal may have been interlaced, which could explain the color fringing. I’m also fairly certain that the game was not running in 3D. It’s possible that real world imagery is better represented with VRD technology than CGI; I’ll need to get my head back into the Avegant with more content to be sure.

We’ll be checking out Avegant’s latest Glyph prototype at CES 2014 next month.

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What do you think of the design and price: Will it work? Would you wear it?