Cymatic Bruce here with more videos from my ‘CES in VR’ series; side-by-side 3D videos meant to be viewed in VR using VR Player. These videos feature hands on impressions of two devices that recently concluded successful Kickstarters: the Avegant Glyph and CastAR!

Avegant Glyph

  • Watch without a Rift: Click the gear icon in the YouTube player and set 3D to Off.
  • Watch with the Oculus Rift:  Download VR Player and the configuration preset for this video. In VR Player go to Tools > Load Preset > From File… and select the configuration preset. Then go to File > Open Stream > With VLC… and paste this link.

Karl (founder of SVVR) and I got the chance to sit and talk with a few members of the Avegant team and try the Glyph prototype. I was pleasantly surprised by their outlook and intention for the product: a plug-and-play personal media player with an irresistibly attractive form factor. Some features will be borrowed from VR (like head tracking) but are not the core functionality.

When I looked into the unit, the picture blew me away. By far the picture quality was the most impressive feature of the Glyph. The colors were insanely rich and vibrant. The image was ridiculously clear, even with my glasses off. The light is natural—I felt no need to adjust brightness, contrast, or any other picture setting. I was unable to perceive any sort of screen door, as expected with projected light. They told me that the picture was 720p, but if you would have asked me to guess before hand I probably would have told you 1080p.

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These early prototypes they were showing looked and felt great. The unit was a bit heavy, and had to be held in place to get the “sweet spot”, but the sweet spot is super sweet. The sound is incredible—high end earphones for sure. The unit has diopter and IPD adjustments that are easy to modify and melded into the design. Another big plus is that the unit does not blind you to the outside world. I was able to operate my phone, a laptop, and take a drink of coke without removing the device.

The Glyph is not for everyone. It is not immersive VR, but it is certainly a compelling media player experience. I would gladly get one to replace my TV. I don’t view the Glyph as an Oculus Rift competitor, I view it as a Sony HMZ competitor—and it blows that unit out of the freakin’ water.

Technical Illusions CastAR

  • Watch without a Rift: Click the gear icon in the YouTube player and set 3D to Off.
  • Watch with the Oculus Rift:  Download VR Player and the configuration preset for this video. In VR Player go to Tools > Load Preset > From File… and select the configuration preset. Then go to File > Open Stream > With VLC… and paste this link.

The creators of CastAR were at CES giving private demos, and I was able to schedule an interview as well as a peek at the newest prototype that Jeri Ellsworth put together over Christmas: the HD prototype with 720p per eye! I talked with Rick Johnson, co-founder of Technical Illusions, and then went on to try their latest prototype.

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The unit fit over my glasses and was comfortable to wear. There was no difficulty interacting with the environment while the unit was active, CastAR glasses do not interfere with your regular vision. The pico projector assembly attached to the glasses did get a little warm, but Rick assured me that they would be combining and shrinking components soon that would consume less power and emit less heat. A bit more than a square meter of reflective material was set up on the table in an “L” shape, along with an IR wand, Xbox controller, and IR tracker.

The picture was solid stereoscopic 3D, very clear, and the brightness levels were good! The experience is a bit hard to describe; the picture does not fill the material entirely, but rather its as if a rectangular view port follows where you look. The tracking was good, but did get a little bit wonky as I leveled my gaze with the table. I also occluded the tracking once or twice with my wild hand motions. The tracking is positional and rotational, it was great to lean in and examine character models up close!

An exciting feature of CastAR is the clip on accessory to transform the system into a VR headset. Unfortunately the VR component was not available to demo, as the new 720p prototype has a different form factor and aspect ratio. I am certainly curious how their VR solution will compare with the Rift and other VR HMDs.

CastAR is amazing tech, and it needs a killer app. The tabletop gaming/D&D crowd will definitely get excited, there are some very cool possibilities there. Also, Rick showed a desktop proof of concept demo that was very interesting. Imagine your entire desk covered with this stuff—much cheaper than a monitor, and the added bonus of feeling like Tony Stark. I will certainly be keeping a close eye on Technical Illusions and their progress.

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  • Alex

    Dude, you missed the most rare opportunity; put the glasses on your 3D CAMERA! Oh well, great video none the less.

    • ARGH! That is a great point, I am kicking myself for not thinking of that!

  • Fredz

    > I don’t view the Glyph as an Oculus Rift competitor, I view it as a Sony HMZ competitor—and it blows that unit out of the freakin’ water.

    In regard to image quality also ? ie. DLP being superior to OLED in this case ?

    • Yes. The Image quality of the Glyph was definitely better than any of the Sony HMZs I have tried – including the t3 that was at CES. It is quite impressive!

  • Chris Given

    I think the Gylph needs a strap that remains over the head while the front part goes down over the eye’s… Can’t see it being very comfortable without a head strap taking most of the weight no matter how light they make it….

    • Yeah, that is a concern of mine as well. I eventually got it to sit rather well on my face without holding it, but I could tell that the bridge of my nose would be uncomfortable after a while. If it was lighter it might have worked flawlessly, but I would not be surprised if there was a strap option down the line.

    • Paul James

      Actually, they had a set of clips and a thin strap that you could remove on the version I tried and they talked a lot about that as an option on the final product. The guys at Avegant really do look at feedback given and do their best to implement fixes.

      That includes the comments on this site BTW. :)

  • Gabriel

    Thank you Bruce for this news and info! I follow you from begining… of VR ;)

  • Darshan Gayake

    @Cymatic Bruce
    You have tried Avegant Glyph in action and you reply too..so few humble questions.

    1) What will you say about 80″ @ 8 feet away?

    I have seen in many review people mention it small and not some thing to compare with HDTV.

    “The best way I can think of to describe the Glyph viewing experience is it was like watching TV through binoculars”
    http://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/1x2jhw/i_just_tried_the_avegant_glyph/

    2) What is FOV you think when you seat 1 feet away from 24″ 1080P Monitor?

    I think its more then 90 Degree still what ever content I play on my monitor looks absolutely fine to me. so why Avegant Stating they are keeping that 45 degree FOV
    for the sake of making it compatible with regular content?

    3) Do you think you can’t enjoy movie or game on 160″ screen 8 feet away? or it will require special content as now display is 160″.

    Sure they won’t go for RIFT FOV, but What’s wrong in 65 or 75 Degree?

    4) Don’t you think something with 65 or 75 Degree FOV with side arms of regular spectacles (like ST1080) – Those bulky Head phones ( i guess head phones may be
    housing some small rechargable battery and supporting PCbs but can’t that be brought on waist clip with even more juicy bettery) + Head strap @ lower price (by
    Discounting price that saved on headphones) will make much more enticing and successful product?

  • Tim Suetens

    No competition for the Rift.

    • Paul James

      They’ll be happy to hear that as this product isn’t intended to compete with the Rift.

  • mhenriquecd

    The field of view is as clyph? and he would get to have a field of view of the size of the oculus rift? to be more immersive and power replace the OLED screen of the new oculus rift?

    • Paul James

      45 degrees. And it’s not targeted as a competitor to the Rift.

  • vannoo67

    Thanks Bruce, very nice.

    I hope you don’t mind if I give you some feedback on the cinematography.

    While I didn’t mind at all the Jump Cut, I was quite uncomfortable when the camera dolly’ed and panned. My advice, leave the camera on a fixed stand. If you have to move it, do a jump cut or maybe a fade.

    (Hey, wouldn’t It be cool if the camera could track and record its rotation into a data stream bundled with the Audio/Video, so that VRPlayer could offset the motion. Wouldn’t help with the positional translation tho.)

    The Avegant Glyph video suffered from a strange artifact (I guess it was a lens flare or reflection) hovering over your shoulder. It wouldn’t be a problem in mono video, but it is quite disturbing in stereo.

    Thanks again for these great videos. Love your work.

  • Darshan Gayake

    Isn’t moderation took so long? Anyway i did not made any ‘Inappropriate’ comment.
    Why it took so long?

    • Paul James

      Sorry Darshan – have you made a comment and it’s not appeared? Sometimes comments are ‘spammed’ due to a lot of URLs or other HTML based content.

      I’ll see if I can find any buried in the Spam heap.

  • Darshan Gayake

    @Cymatic Bruce
    You have tried Avegant Glyph in action …so few humble questions.

    1) What will you say about 80″ @ 8 feet away?

    I have seen in many review people mention it small and not some thing to compare with HDTV.
    Many reviewers compare this experience with small screen far away….that includes on their KICK-STARTER comment section too.

    2) What is FOV you think when you seat 1 feet away from 24″ 1080P Monitor?

    I think its more then 90 Degree still what ever content I play on my monitor looks absolutely fine to me. so why Avegant Stating they are keeping that 45 degree FOV
    for the sake of making it compatible with regular content?

    3) Do you think you can’t enjoy movie or game on 160″ screen 8 feet away? or it will require special content as now display is 160″.

    Sure they won’t go for RIFT FOV, but What’s wrong in 65 or 75 Degree?

    ( i have moderated – removed the URL and Removed last question – should be no problem now.)