December 19, 2013
MetaPro Augmented Reality Glasses May Make Iron Man Technology A Reality
Google Glass is about to get a run for its money. Big time. Although they're currently the leader in wearable computing, that could all change in a few months. Google Glass has the distinction of being the first truly functional wearable display technology, but they're about the get some serious competition.
Meta, a tech startup company has converted a 20-acre Portola Valley estate into their temporary headquarters and think-tank, as they frantically work to create the closest thing to Tony Stark’s tech setup that you’re likely to get.
"It will be the most powerful wearable computer," says Meron Gribetz, Meta’s CEO. A 27-year-old former grad student in neuroscience, Gribetz is confident that Meta is leading the charge on the next big tech revolution: "There is no other future of computing other than this technology, which can display information from the real world and control objects with your fingers at low latency and high dexterity. It's the keyboard and mouse of the future."
For the past few years, Meta has been busy making prototypes of wearable devices, which feature see-through optics and a variety of sensor arrays. In a bid to attract early adopters and developers who aspire to design for this innovative new computing platform, they introduced the META.01 glasses and made them available for pre-order for the price of $667 per pair.
It was a modest beginning, to be sure. The META.01 Developer Edition glasses must be plugged into a computer in order to work, plus they lack aesthetic appeal, resembling a pair of safety goggles more than anything you would be caught wearing in public.
Since they were intended for developers to get them onboard with the technology, sacrificing form for function was understandable. Those META.01 models are now getting ready to ship out, which means the company can now focus on the consumer version.
The next generation of augmented reality glasses promise the first holographic interface, plus a sleek and stylish design much more suited for the real world. Resembling a hip pair of Ray-Ban aviator shades, they’re packed with more technology and capabilities than the starter model and aim to do much more than Google Glass currently can. (It had better, since it’s price tag is a hefty $3,000.)
What will three thousand bucks get you? Let’s dive into the tech specs rundown. The MetaPro glasses will feature 15 times the display area of Google Glass, with two 1280 x 720-pixel LCD displays, each one allowing 40 degrees field of view and aligned for stereoscopic 3D.
While Google Glass only presents 2D images, the MetaPro glasses have twin RGB cameras, plus 3D surround sound and 3D time of flight depth. To make sure they deliver the 3D virtual computing experience, they also have a 9-axis integrated motion unit with accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.
That’s some serious technology in such a small package, no doubt. But it’s important to note that the MetaPro glasses will ship with a powerful pocket computer, which connects to the glasses via a thin wire.
While you’re not entirely untethered, they’re still pretty darn cool, since most of us are not billionaire playboy philanthropists with the funds to have our own J.A.R.V.I.S. to cater to our every virtual computing whim.
MetaPro’s powerful pocket computer will include an Intel i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage. It will be supported by Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, and is powered by a 32WHr battery, allowing at least 4 hours of battery life. The glasses weigh in at 180 grams and support prescription lenses, which are attached via a magnet.
While comparisons to Google Glass will abound, it’s important to point out that they are very different species of augmented reality technology. Rather than more of a cool accessory with notifications, pictures and video presented in a small virtual screen above the eye, the MetaPro is pretty much a high-powered computer.
Gribetz has assembled a leadership team of heavy hitters including some of the world’s foremost minds in the field of augmented reality (AR). Lead Advisor Steven K. Feiner is a Columbia University professor. Chief Scientist Steve Mann is widely regarded as the father of wearable computing. Plus, Chief Technology Officer Raymond Lo, has been working under Mann’s tutelage for over a decade and was one of a handful to make it through Mann’s notoriously difficult PhD Program at University of Toronto. Minding the money is CFO Rami Aharoni, a PhD who founded Lumus, one of the most advanced AR optics companies in the world.
This team has the bench strength and expertise to deliver something that will make you feel like a real-life Tony Stark. Although it doesn’t come with a fully weaponized iron suit of armor, MetaPro claims to mirror all your devices, taking all of your devices and applications with you. The glasses will even allow you to adjust your screen size and expand your multitasking capabilities by adding extra display areas.
By the time MetaPro begins shipping in June 2014, Meta hopes to have 200 to 300 apps available, ranging from games to industrial design, with more augmented reality apps are currently being developed in Meta’s exclusive app store.
So, if you’ve ever wished that Minority Report technology was available to everyman; or if you’ve ever envied Robert Downey, Jr's character in the Iron Man series, your wish can come true in Summer 2014 – provided you’ve got $3,000.
The MetaPro glasses are available for pre-order, so either drop Santa a note or start saving up now.