Redwood City-based Meta showed its latest AR glasses live on stage at TED in Vancouver.
The Meta 2 was demonstrated live by CEO Meron Gribetz with a person-to-person “call” showing a hand-off of a 3D model from a holographic person. Gribetz’ perspective was shown through the glasses as he reached out and took a model of a brain — a 3D hologram — from the hands of a colleague he saw projected in front of him.
“We’re all going to be throwing away our external monitors,” Gribetz said.
Gribetz’ talk focused on the idea that “you” are the operating system. His roughly 100-person company is attempting to tap into a more natural way of interacting with information and the people around us, rather than sitting behind a computer terminal or hunched over a little rectangle of light. Instead, Gribetz sees everyone wearing tiny strips of glass in a few years.
“Living inside of Windows scares me,” he said of the current paradigm. “We’re trying to build a zero learning curve computer.”
Gribetz’ vision sounds similar to enormously well-funded Florida startup Magic Leap, which has only shown a video of its technology in action. The startups are attempting to layer digital information on top of our view of the real world, leading to entirely new ways of interacting with other people and processing information. It’s an enormously hard problem to solve though and requires huge advances in new display technologies that look good in a variety of lighting conditions, better movement tracking and lower power consumption. However, the potential for a wearable AR device you can take with you out in the real world is larger than a VR device that might be restricted to use at home.
The Meta demonstration live on stage was interspersed with videos showing footage “shot through Meta 2 technology.” The language is similar to the note at the bottom of the single public Magic Leap video, which says “shot directly through Magic Leap technology.” The disclaimers are likely there because it’s difficult to accurately depict through a traditional video what you can see when wearing an AR headset. For example, Microsoft has been criticized for the way it depicts HoloLens. The device features a limited field of view and comes at a high price, so gaming uses for the technology are likely very limited despite promotional videos showing sprawling mixed reality landscapes and games that take over entire living rooms. It’s unclear what field of view Meta 2 is capable of showing.