Augmented reality is a technology that has picked up in the last few years, and while still not an everyday name, more and more people are showing interest in every gadget that provides this feature. Google Glass gave augmented reality a jump start, and now, others are trying to produce similar devices, at lower prices, in the hope that AR might become a part of our lives.

meta is the name of such a project. The developers of meta think that their device will offer users a new way to view the world, literally. They are so confident that people will love their design, that they have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their first line of meta AR glasses.

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The end of the flat screen?

These augmented reality glasses are the brainchild of Meron Gribetz and his team from Columbia University. The device is able to overlay a virtual environment over the real world, with which the user can interact. Unlike other devices, like Google Glass which give users an overlay on one side of their field of view, meta uses everything around the user and overlays the virtual elements in his entire field of view.

It does this by seeing the world exactly like the user, via two cameras mounted on top of the clear display. By using two cameras, the device sees the world in 3D, allowing the user to view and interact with objects in all dimensions. The clear display was created in partnership with Epson, but the hardware is only a small part of what meta is.


The magic behind meta’s potential is the endless lines of state of the art coding that was written by the developers, in order for the device to process all the information in three dimensions render virtual graphics in real time. Also, it does not require any fiducial markers, so the user will interact with it naturally at any time.

Hardware specs

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This is the first development kit of the meta, so even if it might seem a bit bulky at the moment, the developers think that in the next kits, they will be able to shrink it down to the relative size of a normal pair of glasses.

  • Field of view: 23 degrees for each eye
  • Projection: 2 individual cameras (one for each eye)
  • Resolution: 960 x 540 for each eye (which makes FullHD 1920 x 1080 overall)
  • Weight: 0.3 kilograms
  • Input: HDMI and USB

On the software side, the device is supported on Windows OS for the moment, so interested software developers can create apps with Unity3D. Support for other platforms will follow at a later time. The SDK that will come with the meta 1 dev kit will also have some awesome features of its own:

  • Gestures / Finger tracking
  • Depth data for objects that are in the range of the cameras
  • RGB data and surface tracking (allows the user to use real world planes and meshes of surfaces for anchoring virtual objects to them, or augmenting them)

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In the long run, the developers of the meta AR glasses hope to build a app store where developers that buy this device can upload their apps and users can download and use them, just like they would use a smartphone’s app store. This device will have many uses, and thanks to its affordable price tag (estimated $750), many will afford it.

Potential uses for this technology go far beyond entertainment and there are many that are excited to see it in action. From 3D developers to architects, everyone sees a potential use for the meta 3D glasses. At the moment, there is still a long way to go, and for those who want to support this project, they can head over to their Kickstarter page and back them.


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Author

I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.