$350 Google Glass Competitor Covers Both Eyes to Augment Your Reality

If you think wearing Google Glass makes you look like a futuristic cyborg, than the Atheer One is sure to make you feel like you’ve just crawled out of a time machine. Atheer Labs has just announced that its augmented reality 3D headset is launching on Indiegogo-- meaning you’ll be able to reserve a pair of true AR spectacles for just $350.

The Atheer One is among a newer breed of wearable devices that are designed to bring augmented reality to everyday computing. While Google Glass uses a tiny floating display to bring notifications, messages and news headlines to the corner of your eye, the Atheer One actually puts images and information directly in your line of vision over the real world.

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Atheer’s device consists of two XGA resolution displays in front of both eyes, creating a screen that is said to be the equivalent of 26-inch tablet at half an arm’s length in front of your face. Atheer claims that this is seven to eight times the resolution of Google Glass. The unit itself weighs about 2.5 ounces, which is much lighter than the 6.3-ounce metaPRO wearable display that promises to deliver similar AR functionality.

Unlike the metaPRO glasses, however, the Atheer One doesn’t function as an independent computer. It tethers to Android smartphones, enabling you to leverage 2D apps from the Google Play store in a 3D environment. Atheer Labs says the system is already compatible with the Google Play store’s selection of more than one million apps. However, as shown in the image above, the device requires a physical cord to tether to your smartphone. While this could easily prevent connectivity issues experienced with devices such as Glass, it compromises the headset's portability and sleek form factor. 

The Atheer One is the $350 consumer oriented headset that’s slated to ship in Q4 2014, but Atheer is also releasing an $850 version for developers. This  developer model differs from the consumer edition in that it can function on its own as a standalone device without tethering to a smartphone.

Since the Atheer One displays 3D graphics in front of you, it only seems natural that you would reach out and touch these images to interact with them. The Mountain View-based startup showcased this functionality at AllThingsD’s D11 conference in May, as a Atheer Labs team member raised his arm forward and moved his hand to manipulate a 3D  model of Earth. We noticed he was wearing his glasses underneath the prototype, which tells us the Atheer One isn’t likely to ship with prescription options like the metaPRO.

The Atheer One is one of several augmented reality devices we’re expecting to see in the near future. In addition to the metaPRO, Vuzix recently unveiled an augmented reality-focused successor to the M100 Smart Glasses known as the M2000AR. We look forward to bringing you our own eyes-on impressions soon.

Lisa Eadicicco
LAPTOP Staff Writer
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for Laptopmag.com since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.