Experience stark, vivid images like nothing you've ever seen combined with premium audio in a unique flip down form factor. Read more
This project was successfully funded on February 21, 2014.
About this project
Introducing the Avegant Glyph
Since the beginning of personal display technology, screens have been getting smaller and closer to our eyes but with one limitation: image quality. At Avegant we've solved that problem using a new technology that mimics the way that we as humans naturally see light. Using a Virtual Retinal Display we've figured out how to project images directly onto your retina, creating sharp, stark images unlike anything you've seen before.
Over the past two years we've worked to miniaturize the technology to fit into a portable headset good for mobile or home use. The product of our work is the Glyph. Combining a unique flip-down form factor, super sharp imagery and premium noise-cancelling audio, we created a device that is a revolution in personal display technology.
The Glyph uses a simple HDMI input to display anything in your content library, from the movies that you already own to streamed Netflix over your iPhone to the desktop environment in your Mac or PC. The Glyph is also great for gaming, whether in playing Call of Duty Ghosts on your Playstation or Real Racing on your mobile phone. And with an integrated 9 Degree of Freedom head-tracker, a whole world of interactive gaming, Point of View (PoV) imaging and interactive storytelling is within our reach.
And this is just the beginning. The future of content possible with the Glyph is limitless. Imagine directors being able to produce 360° movies where you can not only watch actors interact in a cafe but look around the environment as the story unfolds around you. Imagine integrating an LTE chip into the Glyph and making calls straight from your headset. Imagine integrating a camera on the front of the visor and clicking a button to see not just the world in front of you but ultraviolet and infrared signatures in real time.
Backers of this project are more than consumers and testers. You're investing in the future of display technology and participating in what can change the world of vision as we currently know it. We'll make you part of that community as we build it from the ground up, from interactive testing and feedback to online forums to member-only events and perks.
At the end of this campaign, those who pledge $499 or more will receive a fully functional Beta Glyph Prototype, a device that integrates fluidly with any content of your choice, displays vivid 3D and symbolizes the first step in truly integrated and stylish mobile near-eye display technology.
Accolade from the Media
Reviewed.com, part of USA TODAY, January 9th - Editor's Choice Award at CES: "As far as clarity, there is definitely a 'wow factor' when you first experience the image projected by the Glyph. It’s quite amazing to realize that you aren’t staring at a screen, and that the projected image is reflecting off the back of your retina. Since it projects into each eye independently, you can view images and video in full 3-D."
THE VERGE, December 18th: “The picture I see already looks beautiful: high-res, colorful, and accurate, with none of the screen-door effect or pixellation of a device like the Rift.”
What is a Virtual Retinal Display?
The Glyph's Virtual Retinal Display uses one million micromirrors in each eye piece to reflect a sharp, vivid and lifelike image directly onto the back of your retina. It's an advanced, safe and innovative process that results in extremely comfortable light yielding very little eyestrain. Users of the Glyph prototypes have worn devices comfortably for hours with no nausea or disorientation when transitioning back to normal vision.
Watch this video to see how it works.
What To Expect From The Deliverable Glyph Beta
We've spent a long time perfecting the science and the design that goes into the Glyph, and we're proud to bring you a device that reflects our passion.
The Glyph Beta that you receive in the mail later this year will have all of the trademarks of a fully developed and tested product, including re-engineered ergonomics and a slimmer, more efficient design than what you see above. Compared to the physical alpha prototype now in our hands, Avegant plans to deliver:
- A comfortable, balanced fit that applies minimal pressure to the user's nose and ears while still looking great
- Slimmer ear cans reduced approximately 50% in thickness
- A thinner, more lightweight visor with a cover that minimally impacts your head and hair during audio mode use
- One slim cable that connects to either an HDMI cable or an audio jack
Renderings of the deliverable beta prototype that you'll get are on our homepage!
Glyph Beta Product Specifications
We need to be clear with one thing: what you'll receive at the end of this year is a beta product. The Glyph Alpha works magnificently in its current state and will be an order of magnitude better when it reaches your hands as the Glyph Beta. But it's still going to be a beta device with room for growth.
Backers of this project are early testers and adopters. We hope to work with you over and after the campaign to learn about your experiences, refine the product and help bring this to the mainstream store shelves. It should be a great adventure.
Here's what you can expect to receive.
- Weight: 16oz
- Color: White, Black or Blue
- Display Technology: Micromirror Array
- Resolution: WXGA (1280 x 720) per eye
- Contrast Ratio: >1000:1
- Total pixels: 1,843,200
- Refresh Rate: up to 120 Hz
- Horizontal Field of View: 45°
- Sound Output Mode: Premium Stereo
- Frequency Response: 20 - 20000 Hz
- Dynamic Range: 115 dB
- Microphone: Built-in
- Connectivity: wired over HDMI or TRRS audio cable
- IPD Adjustment: Yes 50-75mm
- Diopter Adjustment: +2 to -6
- Headtracking: 9 DOF IMU output via Bluetooth or hardwired
- Head strap: Optional head strap included
- Video: Single HDMI connection
- Power: microUSB
- Audio: 3.5mm TRRS jack (stereo-plus-mic)
- Power/recharge via microUSB cable
- Onboard battery provides 3 hour runtime
The Development Process
With a strong staff of dedicated engineers, Avegant has been aggressively iterating on the Glyph design over the last two years. It started with a proof of concept on a benchtop:
We were then able to miniaturize the technology into an engineering proof of concept.
Next, we started to build in features, including the flip-down form factor and integrated audio. We took this technology to CES in Las Vegas.
Throughout this year we'll be taking our support from Kickstarter and using it to refine and optimize the design.
The Glyph Beta that you receive will be subjected to a full course of ergonomic testing and redesign where we'll carefully balance the comfort and fit. We'll also redesign the optics to accommodate a wider range of inter-pupillary distances. Finally, we'll slim down the ear cans to 50% of their current thickness and decrease the thickness of the optics in the visor to ensure a better fit.
Renderings of the deliverable beta prototype that you'll get are on our homepage!
The Glyph for Developers
All new hardware projects require developers to push the envelope of the technology in order to create the best experiences possible. At Avegant, we're excited to support developers and work with the community as the platform grows.
Getting started as a developer is simple; the only hardware you need is a Glyph! We've intentionally created the Glyph Beta with a form factor that works fluidly with any HDMI input, making the device simple to use with any source. While we are currently compatible with a range of apps and platforms, we hope developers will create custom software that takes full advantage of the Glyph. This includes wide integration with our head-tracking in conjunction with a full spectrum of devices. We see major opportunities in this realm with huge potential growth, for example with mobile support so that head-tracking can be embedded into more 360 video apps and Point of View (POV) games.
We can't wait for some of you to make a golf game that uses the sensors within a phone along with head-tracking to create a 360 degree simulation of the PGA Master's or a light saber fighting game where the 3D buzzing sound moves from ear to ear as we hack and slash our way through the future.
During the campaign, we'll be building out a developer's forum and engaging a feedback mechanism for our early adopters to interface directly with our engineering team. We are also looking to any developers that join us on Kickstarter to help us target the software environments that they are passionate about so we can work on integration for those first.
The Glyph for First Person View Applications
Integrated head tracking and high-end video opens the door to a wide range of First Person View (FPV) applications for the Glyph. We stopped by Skyspecs in Ann Arbor to get an idea of how drone technology can be improved using the Glyph
How We'll Use Your Support
Prototyping and testing a piece of consumer electronics is a time and cost intensive process. Our initial research and prototyping brought us to the alpha stage of development. We proved that the science worked, which is the biggest risk in a project like this. Now we need to ramp up production and make sure that the fit is good for a wide range of consumers.
Your money will help us expand out our prototype base to perform a full design of experiment on fit and function. We're working with Tekna, an industrial design firm in Michigan with broad experience in designing medical devices, to find the materials and ergonomics for the best look and fit.
We also need to set up and organize our manufacturing. Currently, we're proud to be designing and manufacturing the Glyph in the United States, but to plan for the future we need to identify and engage with manufacturers around the planet to ramp up large-scale manufacturing.
Along the way, we'll also allocate engineering cycles to rebuilding the electronics in order to slim down the weight and lower the profile of the device.
More Reviews from the Media
So far our Engineering and Alpha Prototypes have received much accolade from the press.
CNET profiled us live at CES:
CNET, January 6th: "...the projected image, just like my last time with Avegant's virtual retinal display tech, was exceedingly bright and vivid, lacking any sense of pixelation."
THE VERGE, December 18th: “The picture I see already looks beautiful: high-res, colorful, and accurate, with none of the screen-door effect or pixellation of a device like the Rift.”
ENGADGET, December 18th: “…the company’s latest reveal has us throwing balls of cash at the screen.”
TESTED, November 12th: “Objects in focus looked much sharper than I would expect from 720p, and with the interpupilary distance adjusted, there was no crosstalk that I could see in the 3D. But more importantly, my eyes weren’t strained and I actually could let my pupils comfortably wander and focus on different parts of the image.”
ROAD TO VR, November 12th: “…it was one of the most vivid and natural things I’ve ever seen on any display.”
DISCOVERY NEWS, October 11th: “Each projected images offers two times the resolution of competing head-mounted displays, plus a seamless image compliments of precise pixel blending.”
DVICE, October 10th: “Avegant’s prototype Virtual Retinal Display (VRD) is not your run-of-the mill head-mounted display (HMD).”
DIGITAL TRENDS,October 10th: “...it actually projects images directly onto your retinas, which gives it a number of advantages over LCD-based headsets.”
CNET, October 9th: “This truly provides a far more compelling visual experience than any headset on the market today.”
ENGADGET, October 9th: “We’ve never seen a product quite like this, and for Avegant, that’s very good news.”
LAPTOP MAG, October 9th: “The Avegant Virtual Retinal Display boasts a completely different level of realism, since it projects light directly into your eye to mimic natural vision.”
About the Team
This technology is born out of an incredibly passionate group of engineers (even our marketing lead is an engineer) dedicated to near eye displays.
Dr. Allan Evans, our CTO developed the technology out of a government lab, and together with Dr. Neil Welch, our VP of Engineering and Edward Tang, our CEO, they were able to build the initial prototypes.
We have a confident, strong team with deep connections in the manufacturing and electrical engineering world across the country.
- What is a Virtual Retinal Display? A Virtual Retinal Display uses a micromirror array and a combination of optics to reflect an image directly onto your retina, effectively using the back of your eyeball as a screen. The resulting picture is extremely sharp and vivid, unlike anything a conventional display can produce. In particular, the 3D images are exceptionally clear.
- What sort of content works with the Glyph? The Glyph is made to be media agnostic, meaning that it can plug into any HDMI source and display any current content natively. This means sources from an XBox to a Playstation to a MacBook to an iPhone to an Android device may be used while content from Blu-ray DVDs to video games to streaming movies can be watched.
- For how long can it be worn? The reflected light produced from the Glyph is very comfortable and natural feeling. Many users who experience eye strain or nausea in looking at a conventional display feel no similar effect using this technology.
- What about battery life? The beta headset will have enough battery life to power a full-length feature film, about three hours.
- What sort of cables will I need? The beta headset will have one HDMI cable that will plug into any HDMI source. An adapter will be included to go to a micro-HDMI connection.
- Will there be head tracking for gaming or immersive reality? Yes. We have already tested the current prototypes with head tracking and assorted console games. They work great!
- What is the field of view? Looking into the device you’ll see an image that looks like an 80 inch screen 8 feet away from you. That translates to about a 45 degree field of view.
- Can you make that field of view bigger? Yes. We promise to look into developing it. But right now we want to focus on bringing a broad spectrum of already-existing content to the broad user base, and we don't want to constrain the image. Support us in our efforts now and you'll see the fruit of our development down the road.
- Does this technology work with Virtual Reality? Yes. The high resolution, lack of screen-door effect and low latency of our technology makes it great for VR.
- Is it safe? Yes. The light source is simply a low powered Light Emitting Diode (LED) – something like you would see at the end of a keychain light. The micromirror array and optics together create the unique image.
- How does the Glyph work with glasses? You’ll be able to adjust the diopters in the Glyph to accommodate a wide variety of prescriptions and pupillary distances. In short: you won’t need your glasses. Note: at this point we cannot account for astigmatic eyesight.
- Isn’t a micromirror array the same thing as a DLP? Yes. We’re working with TI utilizing brand new, unreleased, cutting-edge micromirror technology.
* Originally we planned to include noise cancelling at $1M of funding, but because the messaging was unclear at the outset we'll include it with all of the shipped devices from here on out. More stretch goals to come!
Stretch Goals: $500,000 - Complete!
We've doubled our goal! As a thanks, we're going to expand the number of available body colors for the regular Glyph $499 contribution or the $499 special edition to include Red, Green and Orange. LED and HDMI colors will remain blue and black respectively on the regular edition. Customized LED and HDMI colors for the special edition will remain among the currently offered options. You'll be able to pick your colors after the campaign is finished.
Stretch Goals: $750,000 - Complete!
At $750K we'll include a basic semi-rigid fabric protective case with all shipped Glyphs (excluding the $999 version with a customized case). We'll release details on the specific design soon.
Stretch Goals: $1,000,000 - Complete!
At $1M we're allowing backers of the Glyph Beta (any edition) to custom engrave the side of their headsets. The engraving will likely be either "Limited Edition" or "Kickstarter Edition" with the backer number underneath, and it'll be possible to opt-out. After the campaign completes we'll send out a survey to refine the exact details of the engraving.
Risks and challenges
We at Avegant were fortunate to have the support of our friends and family to get the initial engineering prototypes built and tested. To date, we've already integrated and tested all of the optics, electronics and audio components needed to make the Glyph Alpha functional.
Our challenges through delivery primarily lie in designing and testing a fit that will be comfortable for the widest spectrum of users and also scaling up manufacturing.
Everyone has a different set of fit parameters that work optimally for the Glyph. To accommodate that, we've integrated diopters into the eyepieces to adjust focus and sliders to adjust IPD (interpupillary distance), and that will cover 99% of users. But if you have a unique ocular condition or IPD then the image may not come into perfect focus for you.
We have mitigated most of our manufacturing challenges by setting up groups throughout the states that can ramp up product at the drop of a hat. If we end up scaling through the roof, we'll need to pivot to a different manufacturing profile, but we already have deep connections in production across the planet. We have strong confidence that the Glyph Beta will ship prior to Christmas this year.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The audio quality is outstanding. We spent a long time studying and perfecting our audio signature to create a sound profile that's just as good as the video quality. At that premium point everyone has a preference, so it's hard to compare to Bose or Beats. But it is GOOD.
Leather... they'll be comfy.
Yes, noise cancelling will be a feature in all Glyph purchases for beta purchasers.
Colors - When and how will the Special Edition backers give info regarding colors of their order(s)?
Avegant will send a survey to all Special Edition backers after the end of this project and before we deliver the reward to you.
Colors - For the standard black, white and blue beta versions, what color are the LED ring and HDMI cables?
The standard LED ring is blue, HDMI cable is black.
They are body. Accent is much harder (and more expensive) from a manufacturing perspective.
The three extra body colors are for everybody.
The Glyph is made to be media agnostic, meaning that it can plug into any HDMI source and display any current content natively. This means sources from an XBox to a Playstation to a MacBook to an iPhone to an Android device may be used while content from Blu-ray DVDs to video games to streaming movies can be watched.
Yes. The Glyph supports all of the HDMI 1.4 standards for 3D video.
Yes. Headtracking will work via Bluetooth 4.0
Yes. The high resolution, lack of screen-door effect and low latency of our technology makes it great for virtual reality.
The beta Glyph will have enough battery life to power a full-length feature film, about three hours.
Power - Have you thought about having replaceable batteries or a charger to take on the road with extra battery power?
Extended life batteries will add a significant volume of weight to the Glyph, which will in turn negatively impact the comfort. Interchangeable batteries may be an option, depending on the size and form factor, but we have to see what the design calls for. If it's a custom battery design then it'll be hard to manufacture in volume. If we can figure out an efficient way to extend battery life we'll let you know.
The Glyph will be charged by standard micro USB.
Recharging the Glyph's battery will be similar to recharging cell phones that use a USB style cable for power. If its plugged into the wall it will charge faster than if it's plugged into a USB port. Recharging from the wall will take less than 3 hours.
Power - Is it possible to use the Glyph while charging it? Can the Glyph be hooked up to an external power source for longer use?
Yes, you can power the Glyph via the micro USB port while you are using it and depending on the source of power (i.e. the wall or newer USB ports) it will recharge the battery while you use it.
The beta headset will have one HDMI cable that will plug into any HDMI source. An adapter will be included to go to a micro-HDMI connection.
The HDMI cable will disconnect from the Gyph so users can use the cord of their choice.
Cable length is not about cost, it is about noise and weight. Long cables can often feel heavier and have to be thicker for shielding. We are exploring the best "included" cord for the use cases we expect - anyone can obviously use their own cords as well.
At $750K we'll include a basic semi-rigid fabric protective case with all shipped Glyphs (excluding the $999 version with a customized case). We are still exploring different ways to package and carry the Glyph. We will provide a method for carrying it around, but we want to be sure we know how it breaks before we make anything so that the packaging we provide protects it from failure. More importantly, we plan on making the the Glyph itself very robust.
There will be basic video adjustments as well some audio controls for the active noise cancellation.
The redesigned Beta is going to be optimized for fit and comfort. For most, we hope that means a head strap won't be needed, but it may be an option as we get closer to a final fit. What the folks at CNET were testing was our Alpha, which hasn't been optimized yet. Frankly this is part of the reason that we're raising funds on Kickstarter. We've got the science down, we just need to take the money from this effort to make sure that the fit is perfect.
There will be a cover to protect the eye pieces.
We are currently not including wireless video because the power draw is high and there is not a set standard yet.
A Virtual Retinal Display uses a micromirror array and a combination of optics to reflect an image directly onto your retina, effectively using the back of your eyeball as a screen. The resulting picture is extremely sharp and vivid, unlike anything a conventional display can produce. In particular, the 3D images are exceptionally clear.
Yes. We’re working with Texas Instruments utilizing brand new, unreleased, cutting-edge micromirror technology.
Looking into the device, you’ll see an image that looks like an 80 inch screen 8 feet away from you. That translates to about a 45 degree field of view.
Yes. We promise to look into developing it. But right now we want to focus on bringing a broad spectrum of already-existing content to the broad user base, and we don't want to constrain the image. Support us in our efforts now and you'll see the fruit of our development down the road.
1280x720 per eye. Several media outlets previously misprinted it as 1280x768. Our last engineering prototypes were 1280x800.
Absolutely, super crisp, unlike any other HMD I've ever seen. I use it on my phone for messaging and email. And by messaging and email, I mean Reddit.
There is no chromatic aberration visible, no screen door and no pixelation. The micromirror array creates a very sharp image. The image is beautiful, better than any other display I've ever seen, head-mounted or not.
Micromirrors are extremely reliable and usually outlast the rest of the electronics without any dead pixels. We do not expect any dead pixels with this product. That being said, there is the possibility that it could happen on some of the early chipsets before they have been tested for several years. We will not ship a product with any dead pixels, and we will quickly address any units that have pixel failures for our early backers.
Yes. The light source is simply a low powered Light Emitting Diode (LED) – something like you would see at the end of a keychain light. The micromirror array and optics together create the unique image.
The reflected light produced from the Glyph is very comfortable and natural feeling. Many users who experience eye strain or nausea in looking at a conventional display feel no similar effect using this technology.
Optical Experience - What is the expected diopter correction range? Does the Glyph work for those who have myopia?
Yes, the Glyph has a diopter that you can adjust from +2 to -6 to accommodate a range of prescriptions.
You’ll be able to adjust the diopters in the Glyph to accommodate a wide variety of prescriptions and pupillary distances. In short: you won’t need your glasses. Note: at this point we cannot account for astigmatic eyesight.
Nope, contacts are fine.
We have several manufacturing options lined up, both domestic and overseas.
We are verifying delivery over the next month and will probably work with Amazon to distribute internationally. We will be sure we have distribution coverage for countries that Amazon does not service so that everyone will get their rewards promptly.
Shipping - Do Special Edition beta units get priority when it comes to delivery? Or is it a first come first serve deal?
Deliveries for the special edition and the regular Glyphs will be in the same time frame.
We have strong patent protection.
Beta - This is a beta product that we are pre-ordering? What's the retail price of the unit and what features will it have that this beta version won't?
Yes, this is a Beta. We haven't set up distribution or retail profiles yet, it's still early in our product lifecycle. But we're also giving our backers an extremely well developed Beta -- one that should already work fluidly with your content.
Beta - Can you give an estimate for how long the Beta will last? I don't want to buy this and then have the retail ready version come out six months later that is full of superior features.
The Beta will be the only product for the foreseeable future, and we're incentivizing people to get on board by offering it at the price of $499.
Our early backers are incredibly important to us and we don't want to provide a poor experience. We have not decided on an official warranty policy yet, but we will be very supportive and you can expect us to service or replace any faulty hardware.
Pledge $5 or more
A special shoutout and thank you in our newsletter! Plus we'll keep you up to date on the development process as the Glyph Beta reaches completion.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $10 or more
A permanent thank you on Avegant's website. Regardless of the redesign, age or vintage of the site your name will permanently be memorialized among Avegant's pages.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $25 or more
54 backers Limited (146 left of 200)
An Avegant Ultimate Frisbee -- 175 grams of pure ultimate joy from our team to yours, in partnership with our friends at Discraft.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $50 or more
26 backers Limited (474 left of 500)
Avegant Science Fuel! Support the Avegant team and get a 1lb bag of the Avegant roast from Michigan's own Ugly Mug coffee roasters.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $499 or more
500 backers All gone!
One Glyph Beta Special Kickstarter Edition. Choose a black, white or blue headset AND pick your LED ring and HDMI cable color among Red, Green, Yellow, Avegant Blue or Black.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $499 or more
The real deal! One Avegant Glyph Beta device in black, white or blue.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $999 or more
47 backers Limited (203 left of 250)
Avegant Fanpak: One Glyph Beta of your choice (including the Special Edition), with a customized premium case as well as a pound of SCIENCE FUEL, an Avegant disc and a limited edition wool Avegant team jerseyEstimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $1,999 or more
3 backers Limited (1 left of 4)
One Glyph Beta of your choice (including Special Edition), Science Fuel, an Avegant wool pullover AND come out to the Avegant HQ for the full product experience! We'll show you around the office, let you play with the legacy of devices and give you full access to our team. Travel arrangements not included.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $4,999 or more
0 backers Limited (6 left of 6)
One Glyph Beta of your choice (including Special Edition), Science Fuel, an Avegant wool pullover, an Avegant disc signed by the team AND come out to the Avegant HQ for the full product experience and be part of our demo video! We'll show you around the office, let you play with the device and use you as a model in the instructional video we're putting together for final Glyph Beta users. Travel arrangements not included.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $9,999 or more
1 backer Limited (5 left of 6)
Work with our engineers to create one customized Avegant Glyph, from custom colors to a custom splash screen to stenciling and engravingEstimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
- (30 days)