Mobile Tech

Glyph Mobile Theater Takes Kickstarter by Storm

Avegant’s Glyph, the which combines high-quality headphones with a retinal display for an all-in-one audiovisual device, has far surpassed its US$250,000 Kickstarter goal since its Wednesday launch.

The Glyph blew past its target within four hours, and by mid-day Friday had drawn $608,002 from 1,264 contributors. Backers who donate $499 or more earn a fully functional prototype of the device, which looks like a set of large headphones.

The headset can be used for audio purposes, but a visor also can be flipped down and worn in front of the eyes to create a personal mobile theater. Avegant uses a retinal display instead of a screen, projecting images directly onto the user’s retina. Images are much sharper and more natural.

Since it is reflected light rather than a display, users who might experience eyestrain or motion sickness with other virtual reality devices did not feel those effects using the Glyph, Avegant said.

The Glyph uses an HDMI input to connect to Macs or PCs, allowing users to watch content from their own collection, stream movies or TV shows from content providers. The headset also can be used for gaming — including head tracking for interactive gaming — with a PlayStation, Xbox, smartphone and other devices. Users can access any content from a single cable, Avegant noted.

Avegant expects to ship the Glyph in December of this year.

Latest Buzzworthy Wearable

The Glyph is one of the newest wearable tech gadgets to hit the ground running, and marketers are keenly interested in the possibilities.

“The Glyph is a cool implementation for media, but the real story out there is the fact that our physical bodies are now digital input and display platforms,” said John du Pre Gauntt, mobile consultant at Media Dojo.

“We have touchscreens, wearables like FitBit — and now the eyes. If I know what you’re looking at, I’ve got a pretty decent proxy for what interests you at an exact moment,” he told TechNewsWorld.

In terms of entertainment, the Glyph could offer more than Google Glass, one of the other buzzed-about wearable tech pieces, suggested J. Gerry Purdy, chief mobility analyst at Compass Intelligence.

“It’s more of a total immersion than a heads-up display that Google Glass is creating,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This allows Glyph to make the visuals much more realistic.”

Innovation Beyond Entertainment

In a world of tech-savvy consumers used to fiddling with multiple gadgets simultaneously, the Glyph has some limitations, said Rob Maher, professor and department head of electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University-Bozeman.

“The practical difficulty for widespread use is that the device requires looking through the optical binocular system and therefore you can’t be doing anything else while using it,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“There are users who will enjoy this sort of entertainment, perhaps while on an airplane or riding a bus or train for a long commute,” Maher said, “but many other users these days are multitaskers who don’t want to be completely cut off from the environment around them. Having a handheld device and earbuds serves a lot of the day-to-day use for many individuals.”

Those limitations, as well as the current $500 price point, could stop Glyph from moving beyond a niche market, said du Pre Gauntt, but the ideas behind Glyph are going to help Avegant, Google and other tech companies create the next generation of wearable products.

“Wearables for the eyes are inevitable,” he noted.

“There is so much data capture and content immersion you can do with a headset to where it’s a natural progression for a user interface. The smart players will find specific areas of application — like medicine, retail or military — and scale that use into something more general purpose,” du Pre Gauntt said.

“Glasses that allow Amazon stock pickers to navigate cavernous warehouses or enable an Audi mechanic to view an engine that is blown up into 3D and color coded according to different systems makes a lot of sense,” he pointed out. “Glyph is an indicator of the bigger shift to mounted head displays and data capture.”

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