MetaPro glasses augment reality for $3000


— 6:00 AM on December 18, 2013

Move over, Google Glass. There's a new pair of uber-expensive techno glasses in town. Meta's MetaPro augmented reality glasses are available for pre-order for $3000—double the price of the Explorer Edition of Google's spectacles. Unlike the monocular Google Glass, the MetaPro has displays for each eye and a much larger 40° field of view. It also looks like a space-age take on vintage Ray Ban mountaineering sunglasses, which is kind of cool.

Each 3D display has a 1280x720 resolution, and the Zeiss-made lenses are "premium quality," according to Meta. There's loads of other hardware on the frame, too. The MetaPro has a nine-axis motion tracker, surround-sound audio, and both standard and depth-sensitive cameras. All those extra goodies enable interesting functionality, some of which is illustrated by the requisite promo video:

The footage needs more Robert Downey Jr., but the augmented reality interface still looks neat. The depth camera certainly opens up a lot of input possibilities. Too bad the motion tracking seems to have a bit of latency. The technology is apparently legit, though. Engadget was impressed by its hands-on time with "limited demos." Pre-orders aren't scheduled to ship until June 2014, so Meta still has time to optimize the experience.

There is, of course, a catch. The MetaPro requires a sidekick PC with a 1.5GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This so-called Pocket Computer is claimed to be "the most powerful wearable computer available," but there's no word on how big it is, how much it weighs, or how awkward it may be to carry around. The glasses themselves tip the scales at 180 grams, which is nearly five times the weight of my old-school aviators.

Meta claims over 500 apps are already in development for the MetaPro, and the company seems intent on providing an AR conduit to smartphone and desktop apps. I can envision some interesting scenarios where the glasses could be beneficial—even with the required pocket PC in tow. However, the MetaPro looks a little raw for mass-market appeal. It's probably only a matter of time before similar results can be achieved with much cheaper, lighter glasses accompanied by an existing smartphone.

   
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