The Avegant Glyph is one of those weird tech things that engineers talk about in focus groups and graduate school workshops, but wind up abandoning for more practical ventures. Making better rubber hoses, maybe.
It’s also one of those things that, assuming a team could actually conceptualize and build one, they would run out of money. But Avegant (a name created as a sort of portmanteau of the design team’s names) has managed to raise more than a million dollars on Kickstarter so far. And the campaign is still open.
So that’s reason to take the Glyph seriously, even if the concept seems far-fetched -- a bulky set of headphones with a sliding visor that projects video to your eyes.
Sounds complicated. And trust that it is -- but CTO Alan Evans wants to keep the explanation simple, using the “mom test” as a barometer.
“I sat my mom down with one and put it on her head,” Evans said. “Within five minutes she scrolled onto Netflix, went, ‘Ooh, there’s Netflix’ and just sat back in her chair.” That’s the kind of simple experience Evans is hoping to achieve with the Glyph.
So has it worked? I fancy myself a decently intelligent being, so I had a session with one of Avegant’s alpha models. It all sounds a bit daunting, what with the 2 million pixels and 3D capability. But when I strapped in, here was my reaction:
“Oh. Well that looks exactly like I expected.”
Call that a fault or call it a strength. No, it’s not an Oculus Rift. But yes, the Glyph feels pretty natural to look at, and the sound quality is pretty good (even on this tester model that Evans said had been “beat to hell”).
The point of the Glyph is portability and easing eyestrain; rather than staring at your iPad for an hour while you watch a movie, you can plug your tablet into the Glyph and watch in relative comfort and privacy. Is it perfect?
“No, it’s not perfect,” Evans said. “It’s good enough.” He added that he was interested to see where developers would go with the Glyph.
Beta versions of the Avegant Glyph will ship to Kickstarter backers later this year. “Hopefully by Christmas,” Evans added. If you want a pair for yourself, you’ll have to pledge $499, which is admittedly a large sum to invest casually. So I suggest attending one of Avegant’s “Happy Hour” events in your closest city. That way you can determine for yourself whether the concept suits your fancy.
Me? I’m skeptical, and $499 is a lot of money. But it’s much cheaper and more entertainment-driven than Google Glasses. Plus, you won’t look like as much of a clod.