Meta Makes Google Glass Look Like a Modern Day Monocle

Meta AR Glasses

Watch out Google! A new wearable tech startup, Meta, is set to change the face of computing and, according to the team, this pair of augmented reality glasses will make Google Glass look “cute” in comparison.

Meta is the brainchild of Meron Gribetz, a 27-year old Columbia University computer and neuroscience major with a passion for augmented reality. He and his team are living the startup dream shacked up in a house in Palo Alto, California and are committed to making interfaces they grew up watching in films like Iron Man, Avatar and Minority Report a reality

Originally a Kickstarter project, Meta, successfully raised nearly double its original funding goal of $100,000 back in June of this year. The company officially launched this month and are accepting pre-orders of their 0.1 device which will ship as early as November of this year (yes you read that right, 0.1 which means this is a very, very early version).

At a price point of $700, Meta is pretty reasonable compared to the $1,500 price tag attached to Google Glass and considering it has two lenses instead of one is seemingly better value. Meta features twin 960×540 transparent LCD displays with a 23-degree field of view, a 720p RGB camera, a 320×240 infrared depth camera for recognizing things in front of you and a 9-axis sensor which is a combination of accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.

Meta uses the Unity SDK and unlike some of its competitors like Glass, requires you to be tethered to a computer to work. The Hardware team at Meta told BetaKit that as mobile ARM processors advance in performance power, something that is happening at a rapid rate, Meta’s reliance on computers would fade.

Meta’s design has already come a long way from its Kickstarter days when it looked like a Kinect taped to a pair of glasses. The current goggles-like model is pretty intense but what else would you expect from something that will literally allow you to create your own world. The team is working with an industrial designer and iterating using 3D printing to push the design towards more of an Oakley inspired sports glasses look as a possible end product.

Although they are based in the States, Meta has Canadian blood pumping through its veins. The father of wearable computing, Steve Mann, a University of Toronto Professor was brought on board as their Chief Scientist. Mann has been wearing his own version of smart glasses, Eyetap, since the early 80s. Meta also brought Mann’s Phd student, Raymond Lo, on board as their CTO.

“In the very near future, wearable computers will be the dominant technology we all use. Meta is the strongest contender to lead this revolution,” said Steve Mann, Chief Scientist.

Changing the form factor of computing is in Meta’s DNA which separates them from the rest of their competitors. “There are many different devices in the market right now that let you interact with the world. Meta lets you build a world on the existing one,” told Matt Kitchales, Product Manager for Meta.

Kitchales told BetaKit that they see only three major players in this space: Google Glass which is basically a notification device, Oculus Rift which is gaming device and Meta, the first see-through AR device. Kitchales does gives Google Glass credit for inspiring people’s imaginations and for the elegance of the hardware but was quick to point out its limitations. In his words, “Glass is a monocle and no one has worn a monocle since the 1880s.”

Meta is currently looking for developers, enthusiasts and optimists to pre-order Meta 0.1. They have limited their first batch of devices to 800 of which over 70% have been sold at the time this article was written. So if you are anxious to live the life of Tony Stark anytime soon, you will want to head on over and grab them before they are gone.


Update:  Meta announced today that they’ve successfully sold over 700 pairs of glasses to the developer community and reached $500,000 sales in 1-week. In addition, probably most important, is that the company announced their official app store called ‘SpaceApps.’ This will go live on August 20th and to celebrate this occasion they’re offering a discount on the last 300 pairs of glasses for $490.

“We are excited to have so many brilliant developers and evangelists on board with us,” said founder and CEO Meron Gribetz. “This is the first chance to see what our ever-growing team of developers will build. Things are moving at light-speed and it’s definitely the right time to get on board with us and revolutionize the way we interact with computers on a daily basis.”

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

As a writer, consultant and community builder, Tom Emrich uses his passion for new technologies to act as a catalyst to bring on the future. He founded We Are Wearables, an organization that rallies the tech community together to learn, discuss and celebrate the wearable tech space in order to foster adoption and facilitate innovation. We Are Wearables currently has chapters in Toronto and Chicago. Tom writes regularly about wearables and other emerging technologies for MobileSyrup, BetaKit and Designers of Things. He also works with startups, and large organizations as an advisor and consultant offering assistance on product development, marketing and organizational strategy.