Two former Valve employees bring augmented reality glasses to Kickstarter

By on October 14, 2013, 2:00 PM
valve, 3d, kickstarter, augmented reality, jeri ellsworth, rick johnson, technical illusions

A pair of former Valve employees have launched a new company and a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create a pair of augmented reality glasses. It’s called CastAR and it consists of a pair of glasses with two micro-projectors (one for each eye) that works by projecting images onto a retro-reflective sheeting material that is similar to the kind used in traffic signs and high-visibility safety clothing.

The material bounces the majority of light from the projectors back toward the glasses with very little scattering. The system can even be used simultaneously by multiple people so everyone can see the same thing yet have their own private view. For example, a group could all see a public game board but each player could only see their own cards, etc.

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson were working on a pair of augmented reality glasses while at Valve. As the story goes, the company was researching augmented reality and virtual reality. Virtual reality won the majority of support so that project moved forward but for Ellsworth and Johnson, they weren’t ready to give up on the augmented reality project they’d worked on for so long.

Ellsworth spoke with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, he talked to their lawyers and the company has since released all interest in the project which left Ellsworth and Johnson to take over with Newell’s blessing.

The campaign has already raised more than $100,000 of the needed $400,000 goal in less than 24 hours. A pledge of $189 is all that’s necessary to purchase a castAR starter package which includes the glasses with built-in tracking system and a 1 meter by 1 meter surface. A two-player gaming kit will set you back $395 while four-player action will necessitate a pledge of $745. General availability is expected in September 2014.

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