At $350, the Atheer One glasses are a low-cost option to enter augmented reality

Atheer One augmented reality glasses

Google Glass costs $1,500. MetaPro Glasses will run you $3,000. What’s a person with a smartwatch budget but smart glasses ambitions to do?

Augmented reality startup Atheer released its Atheer One glasses on IndieGoGo today, and at $350, they might be the answer. They will ship to buyers in the last quarter of 2014. A developer kit is also available for $850.

Atheer One augmented reality glasses

I had the chance to try on Atheer’s glasses in early December. I played a shooter video game, watched part of a Star Wars movie and examined a model of a heart. I also explored a blueprint of a house and scanned barcodes. The video below is exactly what I saw:

While the field of view wasn’t as large or immersive as the MetaPro Glasses (co-founder and CEO Soulaiman Itani said it will become much larger before the final version is released), and the graphics did not feel as impressive, the glasses were still very capable and, at $350, maybe more desirable. Since I last tried on the glasses in August, they have improved immensely. Depth felt more natural. Icons responded more smoothly to my touch.

Itani said Atheer learned a lot from working with developers, including how to best move through menus and between screens. Itani said the company found people didn’t like having to use lots of gestures to get around, so it shifted away from gestures. Instead of holding up different combinations of fingers, I found myself tapping and swiping through screens.

The Atheer team has also nearly finalized the design for both the One and developer glasses. They are slim and light–just 2.6 ounces.

Prototype Atheer One and developer kit glasses, as of December 2013. Photo by Signe Brewster

Prototype Atheer One and developer kit glasses, as of December 2013. Photo by Signe Brewster

To achieve a respectable battery life, the glasses will come tethered to a small pocket computer. This seems to be the norm right now for more robust glasses like these, and likely one of the reasons why Google did not go all-out on the first iteration of Glass. While Itani said in August that five years from now the company would like to have an untethered, always-on device that people can wear wherever they go, right now they are best suited to sessional use.

Like Meta, Atheer still has some cleaning up to do with its interface and ease of use. But I can tell already these are capable glasses that will ably compete in this early wave of augmented reality glasses.

Itani told me in August that “Atheer” means “ether. The goal is to take the digital world, the virtual world that is very much a part of our lives these days, to free it from behind the screens and put it in the ether.”

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