Google Glass has new competition from Atheer Labs

By Michael Mayday , May 31, 2013 08:20 AM EDT

Wearable computing devices are all the rage in Silicon Valley right now. First there were complex health-tracking devices like Nike Fit, then Google Glass came along and set off a headset craze.

Now there's the latest headset produced by Atheer Labs, a startup based out of Mountain View Calif., which promises users the ability to interact with a virtual 3D layer of information while strolling about in the real world.

Chief Technology Officer Allen Yang demoed the prototype glasses, and the technology behind it, Thursday morning at the AllThingsD annual tech conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

The prototype device features Wi-Fi, a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth 4.0, a pair of displays, and accelerometer, a gyro and an IR camera, according to Engadget, which had hands-on time with the device. The device, according to CNET, isn't hardware specific, and currently uses low-power ARM chips as the device's brain, though it can offload some tasks to a paired smartphone as well.

The system is reportedly capable of working with nearly any operating system - Android, iOS, Xbox or otherwise - and currently supports 2D Android applications on a 3D projected tablet interface.

Users interact with the device's interface by reaching out and "touching" them. Engadget's Michael Gorman, who had a hands-on demo with the device, said poking and prodding 3D projected objects works particularly well in a three-dimensional space.

The one drawback Gorman said he had with the glasses was eyestrain, a recurring problem for glass-like devices. Atheer Labs said they're working on methods to train a user's eyes to work in a 3D environment.

"An eye doctor can tell you 10 or 20 things about your eyes," Yang said, according to CNET. "We are a tech company, not a medical device company, so we don't want to reinvent the world. We want to virtually recreate those procedures in an interactive augmented reality environment, and have an audio/video to guide to take users through critical steps to grasp critical parameters of their eyes."

Ather Labs is currently looking for developers to build applications for its device. The company, according to Time, may produce the glasses itself, or contract out to other manufacturers. Atheer Labs says it expects to release the unnamed glasses sometime early next year.

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