By Gavin Yeung
Ever since Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge first donned his iconic visor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, sci-fi fans have been waiting for the day that the distinctive headband-like device could be turned into a functional reality. This reality finally arrived on our doorstep in the form of one of the most interesting Kickstarter projects in recent memory — the Avegant Glyph. The sleek unit, which upon first glance seemingly takes many of its design cues from a pair of Beats headphones, is the debut product of Redwood, California-based startup Avegant, which brought it into the public eye at the beginning of 2014 by way of a Kickstarter campaign where they demolished their funding goal of $250,000 USD with a whopping $1.5 million USD. After another round of seed funding in December 2014 that added another $9.4 million USD, the Glyph went into production the following year before finally shipping this past January. While its eye-obscuring design inevitably draws comparison with VR devices like the Oculus Rift, Avegant takes great care in differentiating the Glyph as the pioneer in a new category of “mediawear” that are first and foremost built for the normal consumption of video and audio, albeit for your eyes (and ears) only.
Design & Setup
From the outset, Avegant recognized that the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of the Glyph was the “cool” factor — namely, people wouldn’t want to wear it anywhere no matter how beneficial it was, as long as it made you look like someone way too ahead of the curve for your own good. To their credit, the design is on-trend and generally unintrusive, which goes a long way to its acceptance — a far cry from its early iterations, which looked akin to some medical imaging device from the 1980s. Setting up the headset was easy enough — the Glyph simply requires you to connect its HDMI cable to a media device, whether it be your smartphone or games console, and turn it on before the media device’s screen is automatically mirrored within the headset. However, what wasn’t so easy was finding an HDMI adapter as a great many devices still don’t have built-in HDMI ports, with PS4 and Xbox One consoles and the latest-generation MacBooks being the only devices on Avegant’s compatibility list (aside from assorted Blu-Ray players) that don’t require an adapter. Adjusting the Glyph to best fit your face is also a chore. After inserting one of four interchangeable nose pieces included with the kit, you must then fine-tune the height of the nose bridge, papillary distance and focal length, which turns out to be a finicky and never-ending process. Don’t expect to be done with the fiddling after your first five or even 15 minutes of using it — I found myself having to constantly adjust the Glyph for the best fit every single time I put it on. Keypads on each ear cup allow you to turn head-tracking and 3D modes on and off, as well as adjust brightness and volume, but the lowest of the three brightness settings was still uncomfortably blinding.
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