Avegant VR headset funded on Kickstarter


— 12:16 PM on January 24, 2014

Remember the Avegant Virtual Retinal Display we talked about in October? The VR headset hit Kickstarter a couple of days ago, and it's already blown past its $250,000 funding goal. As I write this, the crowdfunding campaign has raised almost $600,000 from over 1,200 backers. The following pitch video explains what the fuss is all about.

The really interesting thing here is the display technology, which bounces light off an array of two million microscopic mirrors and into the user's eyes. The mirrors are designed to more accurately simulate how light reflects off objects in the real world, and they work in conjuction with patented optics. This setup is supposed to eliminate the pixelization and screen door effect associated with conventional display tech.

Backers who pledge $499 or more will receive a beta version of Avegant's Glyph headset. The device promises a display resolution of 1280x720 per eye with a 120Hz refresh rate. The field of view is limited to 45°, though. Rather than providing a wrap-around environment, the Glyph simulates an 80" screen placed eight feet in front of the user.

A single HDMI port provides the video input, and there's an analog jack for audio. Avegant evidently expects people to use the Glyph as a pair of headphones when they're not watching the screen. Indeed, the beta unit promises a thinner, lighter visor that "minimally impacts your head and hair during audio mode use."

Mobile use appears to be a big part of Avegant's plans for the Glyph, which squeezes a claimed three hours of run time from its onboard battery. The battery can be charged via Micro USB, and I hope the device can be powered continuously via that port.

The Glyph's head tracking appears to rely on an accelerometer, so it's not as slick as the camera-based tech in the new Oculus prototype. I'm intrigued by the display technology, though. I'm also pleased to see another virtual reality headset getting such strong support on Kickstarter. More than two decades after Lawnmower Man hit theaters, it looks like VR is finally close to becoming an, er, reality for consumers.

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