Ann Arbor, Michigan based wearable technology startup Avegant today announced the beta consumer concept of its virtual retinal display called Glyph. The Glyph headset integrates video display and audio experience in a flip-down form factor. Audio and video can be simultaneously played on the headset. Prototypes of the Glyph Beta are currently assembled and tested and will be featured at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from January 7-10, 2014. Consumer units will be available on Kickstarter on January 22 for $499 and will ship later in the year. The shipped version will have one HDMI/MHL cable, onboard battery power and a thinner, narrower display band than the Glyph Beta to be shown at CES.

Founded in 2012, Avegant developed the Glyph Virtual Retinal Display based on patented technology developed by CTO Dr. Allan Evans. In September, Yobie Benjamin, former Citigroup CTO joined Avegant as its COO and Chief Software Officer.

As opposed to staring at a panel or a glowing screen, Glyph has no screen. Glyph projects the light right into the eyes of its users, mimicking the natural vision process. This will allow users to perceive the media and data the way they’re supposed to be experienced – more vividly and life-like, claims the company. Visuals are produced by the headset using a low powered LED, a series of custom optics and a micromirror array. Integrated head tracking allows for immersive, responsive gaming that is compatible with all of the latest consoles and games.

Edward Tang, CEO of Avegant added that he sees wearable technology as the next revolution of computing, comparable to what the PC did to computing. He compares watching video content on Glyph to looking around the room while watching videos on a screen on the other hand, leads to eye fatigue and discomfort. While applications for such a device can range from virtual reality and augmented transparent displays to medical applications, the company is initially targeting the mobile gaming industry. While they have been demoing the core technology for some time now, today is the launch of the final product that will be available for end-users. Ed claims that the headset not only provides an engaging visual experience but also packs in noise-cancelling headphones thereby delivering a better audio-visual experience. “We are creating a new genre of devices”, he adds.

“We are very interested in the China market. The Asia market is more tech-forward than the U.S market. We could be looking at China for some components in the future. We also want to work with developers and other stakeholders to produce new kinds of content for such a device, localizing the content that can be consumed”, Ed added on their plans for China. Ed plans to meet up with potential partners in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan later this month.

Avegant Glyph

“We’ve created a premium media experience that people can use with music, movies and games on any device they already own, including their smart phone. Integrating high-end audio with the Glyph and packaging it into a forward-thinking design is critical to a great experience “said Allan Evans, CTO of Avegant.

“Avegant has made some great progress improving core technology that will make generalized virtual worlds possible,” said Phillip Rosedale, creator of Second Life in a release.