Ex-Valve Engineers' Crazy AR Glasses Put Tiny Projectors On Your Face

By Eric Limer on at

Want some more tech to put on your face? Neither full-on goggles like the Oculus Rift nor slender no-AR-yet specs like Google's Glass, CastAR takes a whole different approach to modified-reality tech by slapping tiny projectors on your face, and The Verge got to take a peek.

Ex-Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson had been hard at work on the project for over a year before Valve sliced off their bit of the company. Fortunately, Valve also let the project go with them, and the pair formed Technical Illusions to finish the sucker off. Now they're showing it off at Maker Faire where The Verge caught up with them.

Basically, once you don the glasses, the projectors shoot images out at a specialised, reflective projector screen. Then the screen spits them back at your face, and the glasses split them into left-eye and right-eye images for your 3D viewing pleasure.

While they are at it, the glasses also pick up on LEDs placed around the outside of the screen, and use that data to track your head's location in real-time, feeding you the correct perspectives of the non-existant 3D objects you're craning your head around to look at. It's pretty crazy.

So why not just goggles? Well, this approach lets you incorporate things like AR cards that sprout up game characters and whathaveyou, and then the glasses can track your line of sight to those physical objects to make sure they're rendering correctly in 3D.

The tech is obviously in its early stages, and part of the reason Technical Illusions has taken to Maker Faire is to try and figure out exactly how to apply this stuff. Beyond that, the setup—while impressive—is crazy sophisticated, with waaaaay more parts and requirements than any of the competing systems out there.

Still, it looks promising, and hopefully it'll make it out in some kind of simplified consumer form someday. But if nothing else, it's good to see other people shaking up the AR/VR scene with some wild new ideas. Who knows what other approaches there might be. Holodeck, you guys? You can hop over to The Verge to see these puppies in action. [The Verge]