Since mobile phones began streaming visual content, the movie experience has become incredibly personalized but is missing the absorbing environment of a big theater screen. Reminiscent of Geordi La Forge’s Visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the coolest immersive media device, the Avegant Glyph, has arrived.
According to Avegant’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Allan Evans, “People love movies… Where does that experience suck? Anytime you’re watching on your phone or tablet.” The world’s first personal theater experience looks as simple as a pair of headphones and is priced at USD 699.
Born of a Kickstarter project, the Avegant Glyph prototype was launched in 2013. Glyph had its beginnings at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland Washington, with technology developed by Avegant founder and CTO, Evans. Apart from being an INCOSE-certified systems engineer, Evans has M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, and has seven pending or issued patents.
Seeking an alternative to traditional head-mounted displays, Evans, along with a team of scientists ‘tried to re-create light in a way that very closely mimics how you actually see far away.’ Creating a virtual retinal display that reflects light in an attempt to replicate natural eyesight, Evans collaborated with Avegant’s VP Engineering Neil Welch, and CEO Edward Tang, raising more than US$ 1.5 million for its Glyph prototype.
Bridging the gap between mobile movie watching and developing VR technology, Avegant Glyph has a 720p HDMI display, utilizing ‘Retinal Imaging Technology.’ Retinal Imaging Technology beams light from a low powered LED, through a set of optics, onto a microscopic mirror DLP (Digital Light Processing) array of two million mirrors. The mirrors form the light into an image, which is focused on a second set of optics and projected directly onto the retina. With a ‘screenless display’ that’s purportedly clearer than any VR device, a ‘3D’ mode, head tracking that includes 360-degree viewing and the drone piloting feature; the Avegant Glyph is an innovative piece of developing technology, a ‘living product’ so to speak.
Glyph’s unique tech includes modifiable optics in the form of inter-pupillary distance (IPD) sliders that allow for focus adjustments for specific eyesight, a boon for those afflicted with conditions like myopia or hypermetropia (long-sightedness and short-sightedness respectively). The Glyph is compatible with any HDMI-supported device, has Harman-powered 50mm drivers providing sonic quality, and four interchangeable nose bridges providing support for portable media players. Glyph’s 2060mAH battery powers four hours of viewing, and flipping the device turns the headset into a standard pair of headphones.
With style and weight considered important, Evans states, “We really wanted to create a device that fit into people’s lives in a way that … didn’t constrain them to be or do something that was outside of who they were.” While Glyph could fit into the realms of virtual or alternate reality, Evans views Glyph as a form of ‘escape reality’.
Even the World Economic Forum acknowledged Glyph’s influence by honoring Avegant as a 2015 Technology Pioneer. The Michigan-based start-up Avegant continues to develop the Glyph, and tech enthusiasts eagerly await the improved cinematic experience and VR compatibility.