First revealed with a slightly terrifying set of prototype specs, Avegant's "Virtual Retinal Display" now has a snappier title, a retail design and some release details.
The virtual reality glasses are planned to go on sale in 2014, with a price of $US499. Avegant will be running a Kickstarter early next year, with potential discounts available to early backers.
Now known as "Glyph", the unit is positioned as a general multimedia device, one you could kick back and watch TV and movies (including 3D movies) on as well as use for gaming. It includes a VR display unit on the front, as well as headphones; as you can see in the image, the display pops up, sci-fi style, if all you want to do is listen to something.
The comparisons with Oculus Rift are to be expected, but there are a few key differences between the two. For starters, Glyph's display technology is a little fancier. Instead of simply placing two small LCD screens really close to your eyes, Glyph uses a low-powered LED, optics and a micromirror array to essentially beam the image straight onto your eyeballs (rather than have your eyes be watching a screen).
Avegant claims this eliminates one of the bigger problems facing Oculus Rift - eye strain from extended use - but we'll have to try that ourselves to be sure.
It also works a little differently with gaming. Oculus Rift is, at least for now, heavily slanted towards the PC. I asked Avegant's Chief Executive Officer Edward Tang how Glyph will work with video games. Drivers, motion support, that sort of thing.
"As we are focused on making sure it works with as much content as possible, we've designed our built-in wireless headtracker to map to a standard mouse control" he told me. "This has allowed us to play virtually any game that uses the mouse to control the camera, which is a lot of games."
"We've also been able to replicate the joystick function on a standard PS3/Xbox controller - allowing us to do demos on these consoles. For example, we have been showing people a demo on the new Call of Duty Ghosts on the PS3. This is a game that isn't designed for headtracking nor Virtual Reality, but the effect is amazing and adds a whole new level of immersion to an existing game."
Because of this, they claim that the headset will work on all kinds of platforms. Even phones, if the game has controller support.
Glyph will make its debut at CES in January.