Meta's Meron Gribetz and the rise of the natural machine

Meta expects to have the virtual equivalent of a MacBook Air and iPhone built into a pair of 3D, augmented-reality Ray-Bans controlled by your hands within the next two years.

Dan Farber
7 min read
Meta CEO Meron Gribetz demonstrates the company's bulky first-generation "natural machine" glasses. Meta

In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computers in Jobs' parent's modest ranch house in Los Altos, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley. Nearly 40 years later, in a Los Altos Hills mansion on a hilltop with a view of what Silicon Valley has become, Meron Gribetz is leading a startup that he contends could be the next Apple.

The startup, Meta, is developing so-called augmented-reality glasses that combine the power of a laptop and smartphone in a pair of stylish specs that map virtual objects into the physical world, controlled by your hands, similar to the movie portrayals of app control via gestures in "Iron Man" and "Avatar."

Meta, which came out of Columbia University rather than the Homebrew Computer Club, is trying to usher in the next era of computing. Apple inspired the modern personal computer revolution with the Macintosh and the mobile revolution with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Meta wants to lead the transition from mobile to wearable, augmented-reality computing.

Gribetz, a 27-year-old former neuroscience graduate student who grew up in Israel, bears some resemblance to Jobs (as much as Ashton Kutcher with a scraggly beard). He also shares with Jobs the ability to seize on an idea and make visionary claims, but he has yet to ship a product.

"There is no other future of computing other than this technology, which can display information from the real world and control objects with your fingers at low latency and high dexterity," Gribetz told CNET in May. "It's the keyboard and mouse of the future."

The video below offers Meta's vision of a future enabled by augmented-reality technology: