Avegant Glyph Kickstarter Ends at $1.5 Million, Snoop Dogg Goes Hands-on (yes, that Snoop Dogg)

The Avegant Glyph Beta Kickstarter has ended with just over $1.5 million in funding. The company is now accepting pre-orders for the head mounted display with a release date expected in Q1 2015. Rap legend Snoop Dogg gives the Glyph a try for himself.

The Avegant Glyph is a portable transforming head mounted display which flips down from a headphone-like position to reveal what the company calls a “virtual retinal display” which can connect to a myriad of devices for instant access to video content.

The Avegant Glyph Beta Kickstarter, which launched last month, sought to raise $250,000 in crowdfunding. Today the Kickstarter ended with a whopping $1,509,506. To put that into perspective: the original goal would have been met by pre-selling some 500 Glypha Beta units, but the Kickstarter went on to pre-sell 2,784 Glyphs with 3,331 total backers, including one backer that opted to go with the $9,999 tier (“Work with our engineers to create one customized Avegant Glyph, from custom colors to a custom splash screen to stenciling and engraving”). The first Kickstarter Glyphs are expected to be delivered in December, 2014.

Approved by Snoop D-O-Double-G

Any mediaphile who knows their stuff will tell you that video is only half the equation. Sound fidelity is hugely important to the media experience, and what we’ve heard out of the Glyph so far has been encouraging on that front.

Mr. Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, apparently asked Avegant for a demo of the Glyph after seeing it on CNN. He seemed happy with what he saw and heard, and gave a shoutout to both Avegant and the company’s COO, Yobie Benjamin, on twitter:

Shout out to my homie @yobie for showing me what everyone’s going to jump on @Avegant

— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) February 20, 2014

I wonder what he’d think about the Oculus Rift?

Avegant Glyph Pre-Orders Open, Q1 2015 Release Date

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Now that the Kickstarter has ended, Avegant has opened direct pre-orders through their website for the Glyph Beta. They expect post-Kickstarter pre-orders to ship in Q1 2015. Glyph Beta HMDs can be pre-ordered for $499 (though customers aren’t charged until the unit ships) and come in 6 colors.

Post-Kickstarter Q&A

Road to VR’s Jon Tustain recently met with Avegant at the London VR Meetup, hosted by Inition, for a post-Kickstarter Q&A.

Road to VR: How would you describe your emotions during the Kickstarter?

Avegant: In a word? Tumultuous.

Road to VR: What was the purpose of the Avegant roadshow?

Avegant: The Glyph is a very eyes-on experience, so we wanted to show our most important innovators and early adopters how the technology worked. It ended up being a combination of sales, marketing and information distributing. It was fun. But tiring.

Road to VR: What did you think about the Inition Meetup; did you learn anything new from the feedback?

Avegant: It was great! We had great support from the Inition team, which was very helpful and patient with us. Most of the audience at the meetup was focused on developers, and we learned a great deal about their needs moving forward. The end result will hopefully be a better-refined Glyph.

Road to VR: Did it initiate any potential partnerships you are at liberty to share?

Avegant: Most everything is still in the works right now, but we planted some seeds that I’m sure will grow quite lavishly.

Road to VR: Are you talking to any content providers to bundle content with the consumer version?

Avegant: Not yet! Content licensing is quite tricky, but we’re eager to work with the right partners.

Road to VR: As the Glyph will include a head tracker, do you expect 180/360 content to be popular on the device?

Avegant: Indeed! I’m sure you saw the news on Zero Point. Interactive storytelling is the next generation of media consumption, and we’re happy to be on the leading edge of this innovation.

Road to VR: Do you think you are now getting the message across that the Glyph is not a rival to the Rift?

Avegant: Slowly. Many people associate near eye displays with virtual reality and virtual reality with the Rift. But once they see the applicability of a lower field of view near eye display they usually see the wide applicability of the technology. This is part of the reason why we did the roadshow.

Road to VR: I don’t know the sales figures but I haven’t seen many wearing Sony’s HMZ-series head mounted displays—where is the demand for personal viewers compared to viewing content on a tablet?

Avegant: It is definitely a market that has yet to be fully realized. As more consumers try to unify devices and produce a high end media experience, near eye displays will surely grow in market share. The challenge is in how quickly the wide consumer base will adopt the technology.

Road to VR: When will this be commercially available and for how much?

Avegant: Probably in 2015. The price will be near what the Kickstarter rates were.

Road to VR: The Evening Standard reported that it was better than watching 3DTV. Do you think this offers a glimmer of hope for the battered stereoscopic content producers?

Avegant: Hopefully. There’s a long way to go between concept and production of 3D content. We’re already in talks with a variety of producers.

Road to VR: What will be different from the prototype you presented and the final consumer version?

Avegant: The final consumer version hasn’t yet been chartered. The difference between the Alpha prototype and the Beta that Kickstarter backers receive are that the Beta will be lighter weight with slimmer ear cans, a slimmer visor and lower weight. Effectively it’ll be much easier to wear and carry around.

Road to VR: Many people watching this might remember discussions in the 90s that speak about direct to retina VR. I understand you can increase the field of view so could one day we expect complete field of view direct to retina VR and is that on your roadmap?

Avegant: It’s definitely a possibility. It’s one of the avenues that we’re considering in the larger scale product map at Avegant. Right now our constraints are engineering time and money.

Road to VR: Does the Glyphs display technology offer greater potential to get closer to human resolution?

Avegant: Insofar as it is sharper and more clear than a conventional LED panel, yes. I think there’s still a long way to go though.

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