Avegant Glyph, a Virtual Retinal Display that doubles as a pair of headphones, hits Kickstarter on Jan. 22 for $499

Get ready for more virtual headsets: the Glyph has a funky cyborg look and houses Avegant's unique technology. Will it be enough to stake a claim?

The Avegant Glyph Beta: headphones meet virtual retinal display. Avegant

2014 may just be the year of virtual goggles. We already know about Oculus Rift, but Avegant, makers of the intriguing virtual retinal display technology demoed earlier this year, have unveiled Glyph, its own set of consumer goggles, which will be available to order on Kickstarter on January 22. But these goggles won't ship until "later in the year," and the starting price for this funky flip-down eye/headset is a lofty $499 -- not too terrible compared with the likes of Google Glass, but not exactly a casual investment.

What is a "virtual retinal display?" In case you don't remember Tim Stevens' detailed hands-on with an early prototype (go read it again), the technology uses a micromirror array and a single LED to project 3D images crisply, and for many prescriptions, without the need to wear glasses. (I tried the Avegant technology myself back at Engadget Expand, and it's definitely different than the Oculus Rift). The additional headphone pairing is being optimized with noise-canceling technology, with the aim of being a premium entertainment headset that will work with movies, games, or music, via any HDMI-equipped device or a smartphone.

The Avegant Glyph in black. Avegant

The Kickstarter edition will come packed with an HDMI/MHL cable and a battery pack, along with a design that Avegant claims will be even thinner than the prototype seen above and being shown at CES. The design looks clever, and certainly helps hide the awkwardness of carrying 3D goggles around, but it's unclear what the battery life of the Glyph will be.

The Glyph audio headset, in very early non-display form, on my messy-haired head. Sarah Tew/CNET

I tried the headphones, which sounded pretty good, but the real reason you'd want a Glyph is for the virtual retinal display. Avegant will be showing the Glyph at CES 2014, so stay tuned for more details at what should be a very wearable tech-filled affair.

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About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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