Avegant Reveals Glyph: Transforming HMD With Virtual Retinal Display, Kickstarter Starts at $499

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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.

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:

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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.

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

Comments

  1. Avatar of Andreas Aronsson says

    I have a hard time believing they are very comfortable. It looks like a nice piece of kit, but it’ll have to be quite snug to stay on my head with the video goggles flipped down. Add to this that it will actually include batteries, so it might have some heft to it too.

    There is an IPD adjustment, but are the ear pieces at a fixed distance to the display? Not sure how that will work with different noses! :P With a closer look I guess it might be adjustable, just like a pair of headphones.

    An interesting issue someone brought up on Reddit was that the lenses of the displays will be in your hair when you don’t use it, so they’d have to integrate a micro fiber cloth or something so you can clean it, hehe.

    In any case, I very much look forward to impressions from CES. Perhaps also a bit more technical information of how it’s actually working. I also wonder if they will actually try to get it working with games, in a video interview it sounded like it’s mostly targeted at 3D movies and content like that.

    • Avatar of Mageoftheyear says

      Hair was the first thing I thought about. Cloth isn’t going to cut it though methinks. They’ll need to integrate a shutter or something.
      The weight and stability for this look tricky. Once the visor is down all that weight will be resting on the bridge of your nose and the tops of your ears. I know these are renders, but they don’t yet quite scream “comfort.”

      Don’t get me wrong though! I’m still excited to see where this goes, I’m glad we’re starting to see more specialised VR/AR products as it only helps to bolster exposure to the mainstream. I just hope it becomes positive exposure.

  2. Avatar of EdZ says

    Unless it has an additional fixed headband, you will have to take it off of your head to go between ‘headphone’ and ‘HMD’. If you tried to pull the ‘visor’ down while wearing it as a pair of headphones, there will be nothing to prevent the earcups from rotating over your ears while remaining aligned to the headband, instead of the hinge folding and the earcups staying in place. If you make the clamping force higher to hold the earcups to your head, you’ve only gone and made the hinge friction higher too. It’s a fundamental design flaw.

  3. Avatar of Darshan Gayake says

    QUOTE “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 colour-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 colour 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 colour 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.”

    How PS3 work with its SONY HMZ-T2 does it output SBS for both screen of HMZ does this output locked for Sony or HMZ’s base converts output of PS3? Do people at Avegant has PS3 3D output on their HMD? if its interleaved then it should look awful on HMZ-T2 also.. I searched web for HMZ-T2+COD GHOST 3D review but couldn’t find any reliable one

    Here think why they choose this title? they could have gone for older BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM which might have given good output. they could select james camerons avatar the game for PS3 it has many output including SBS
    http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/james-camerons-avatar-the-game
    They should have demoed this stuff with Geforce 760M equivalent GPU, having Core-i-7 Notebook with TRIDEF IGNITION. I can bet it would have given more good results
    I strongly believe ITS NOT THAT CGI LOOKS BAD….PS3 iS CULPRIT HERE
    AVEGENT please select appropriate hardware to demo your HMD.

    Another THought ::

    How about Omiting those head phones just put 3.5mm universal port for attaching own headphones reduce that assambly and put good head straps and reduce price of GLYPH

    They have larger market to play in at lower price.

  4. Avatar of Neuromute says

    You know what this reminds me of?
    Those stupid skullcandy headphones marketted towards trendy and clueless teenagers.

    I can totally see a whole market surrounded by this once VR takes off.
    People creating tacky looking HMDs that put more focus on the aesthetics than the actual functionality.

    • Avatar of deadering says

      It seems you assume they focus on aesthetics more than functionality solely because you don’t like the way the look.
      Very closed minded and false if you bothered to read. Most people will probably agree with you though based off of looking only at the pictures.
      Such is the “trend”…

  5. Avatar of PsychShaman says

    I dislike the design, I will be shocked if it is truly functional and comfortable. Looks like something someone dreamed up and will attempt to produce, but won’t really work well as a product. I’m mainly talking about the flip down visor btw. I’m a fan of closed headphones, especially for VR, but I would rather have the choice to choose my own and wear them over the HMD. I’m more interested in higher resolution and a higher field of view than the virtual retinal display. Though I hope it succeeds because I think the VRD could be expanded upon and improved.

  6. Avatar of eyeandeye says

    I’m very interested in the display technology, especially if the field of view can be improved later. I’d love to know if this kind of tech could eventually be used to fill your entire vision, with no Rift-style black borders or InfinitEye-style open air design letting the real world in.

    As for their intended use and product design…I’d try it just to experience the VRD tech. That’s about it.

    • Avatar of EdZ says

      To my knowledge, no other DLP or LCOS microdisplay based HMD (which is what this is, for all their obfuscating talk) has had a large FoV without using multiple displays per eye, e.g. the Sensics PiSight.
      If they can successfully find a way around the issues everyone else has had in making a a high-FoV microdisplay HMD work I’d be very impressed. As it stands, their product doesn’t do anything to differentiate itself from numerous others.

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