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Ex-Valve hardware designer reveals AR glasses

Lightweight glasses to offer "fast and highly precise" 3D tracking; Kickstarter underway

Jeri Ellsworth, former head of Valve's hardware division, has launched a Kickstarter for CastAR, a "projected augmented reality system that displays holographic-like 3D projections right in front of you".


Ellsworth, along with ex-Raven developer Rick Johnson, have set a $400,000 funding goal and are promising a "very fast and highly precise tracking solution, allowing you to change your experience by holding your 3D world in place while you are free to move around in it".

CastAR works by displaying an image from a two micro-projectors mounted on a pair of glasses. Each projected image is cast at the appropriate perspective, to view it in stereoscopic 3D.

"Your eyes focus on this projected image at a very natural and comfortable viewing distance," it explains on the Kickstarter page.

"A tiny camera in-between the projectors scans for infrared identification markers placed on the surface. The camera uses these markers to precisely track your head position and orientation in the physical world, enabling the software to accurately adjust how the holographic scene should appear to you. The glasses get their video signal through an HDMI connection. The camera is connected via a USB port on the PC. We are still experimenting with communication options on mobile devices."

The surface used for projections is "retro-reflective sheeting", likened to the material used in traffic signs and high-visibility safety clothing.

"The primary benefit to using this material is that it bounces the majority of light from our projectors directly back toward the glasses with very little scattering," read the Kickstarter blurb.

"This enables the simultaneous use of a single surface by multiple people while keeping each viewer's view private from the others. Since your vision is focused at a natural viewing distance, you shouldn't experience eye strain. Projected augmented reality allows you to simultaneously see both virtual and real-world surroundings, so you are spared other sorts of discomfort as well".

The money pledged is to be put towards refining the product and making it ready for a wider release.

In its pitch video, which you can watch below, the duo are shown playing Dungeons and Dragons, as well as interacting with the projections using a wand-like device.