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Meta's Space Glasses apps: No code, but ideas

The startup still hasn't shipped its prototype augmented reality glasses and software development kit, but it's launched an app store to solicit app concepts.


Hackathons are a great way to drum up interest and get some exposure for a new or existing platform. TechCrunch held a hackathon over the weekend with more than 264 entrants coding over a 24-hour period. But if your hardware prototypes and software development kit aren't available, there isn't much to hack.

Startup Meta, which is developing Space Glasses that combine the power of a laptop and smartphone in spectacles that map virtual objects into the physical world, is trying to overcome the lack of hardware and software problem to hack as it develops its new platform. The company has launched an online app store with nothing to sell, but it is fronting a contest for the best app ideas and allowing people to rank them.

"Take the social site Reddit and add it to iTunes, and you get the Space Glasses apps," said Meta spokesperson Matt Kitchales. Meta plans to get code for its apps by shipping prototype hardware and a software development kit to 250 Kickstarter funders at the end of this month and to 750 more developers who have expressed interest in the platform in January 2014. Meta is also developing apps, and plans to have 15 available later this month with the release of its glasses prototype. In addition, the company is working with a few external partners to create apps, including Gamedraw, a 3D sculpting app from MXDTech.

So far, 300 app ideas have been submitted, the company said. "When the glasses are shipped, the apps with the most votes will be on the front page of the app store," Kitchales said.

The No. 1 app idea so far is "Emergency Medical Technician/Military Medic Application for emergency and war zone first responders."

With the use of marker points placed at key locations on a patient's body, the glass' camera system and the Internet, the first responder can immediately relay crucial information to a standard or mobile hospital unit. The placement of marker points can assist with offsite emergency surgery, tourniquet placement, pressure points, injury data collection, pulse, as well as post-op care, and directions with map for evacuation. In short, a guiding hand in a moment when your surroundings could be unsafe or even hostile.

Some of the other submissions are more conventional, such as gaming apps, including an "augmented reality app that simulates the blade of a light saber in your hands [that] would allow you to battle your friends or slay invisible foes." Meta doesn't have much code yet, but it hopes to have more than just text for its idea entries. The company has hired a designer to help would-be developers create sketches and images to fill out their product ideas.

Meta expects to have stylish, lightweight Space Glasses available to consumers by the end of September 2014. By that time, some of the developer ideas in the Meta app store could be turned into running code. In the meantime, Meta is busy raising money to fund its vision of wearable computing that replaces the physical smartphone.

Correction: This story was edited to correct the timing for the availability of Meta's 15 apps and the company's collaboration with a few external developers.