Introducing the Meta – Augment Your Reality at the Felt Lab!

Filip Jadczak here, back again to share my experiences in my newest sprint here at the Felt Lab. This time I’ve been testing out a brand new piece of technology we’ve got here in the lab: the Meta 1.

The Meta is a set of augmented reality glasses — that is, they provide a layer of digital information on top of the real world. Unlike the Oculus Rift, which focuses on virtual reality and closes you off from the world completely, you can still see through the Meta and it simply adds onto what you see. It is comparable to Microsoft’s HoloLens, or Google Glass.

Meta first appeared on Kickstarter and got almost $200K in funding, surpassing its goal back in June of 2013. Since then the company has been working on their product. You can sign up to become one of their early pioneers, or a developer, on the Meta website.

Since this piece of equipment is so new, my job was to figure out how to get it set up and working in the lab, so others can try it out. We had a few bumps in the registration process, but after that the next step was to set up the software development kit (SDK) for the Meta. I ran into another issue here because I didn’t realize that the Meta software only runs on Windows 8, and is not compatible with Windows 7 (anyone interested in the Meta take note!) After that, however, I was able to get everything working and test out what the Meta can really do.

The Meta SDK comes with a few basic demos. First, you calibrate the glasses so they are adjusted well and can respond properly to your gestures. After that, you can run the demo which has a few basic features. The first demo generates a set of geometric objects which you can pick up with your hand and move throughout the space around you. The other demos feature a virtual car that separates into pieces, and exploding bubbles you can pop with your fingers!

Meta has two apps which can be downloaded from their website. The first creates a set of virtual objects that you can interact with by moving them around, resizing them etc. The second app is the first ever augmented reality web browser, which you can interact with in a similar way. The website claims that more apps are coming soon, and encourages users to create and submit their own. (The Meta runs on Unity, so anyone who is familiar with that software can create apps for the Meta.)

There are a few challenges that are currently present in the Meta. Firstly, it doesn’t always recognize when you are trying to grab one of the virtual objects — this is an issue I ran into several times which can sometimes be frustrating. Secondly, there isn’t a lot of content currently available for the Meta. I’m sure that with time, both of these issues will be resolved. Once the Meta finishes getting through its early stages, I think it will grow into a much better product.

Overall, the Meta is a pretty cool piece of technology. If you are ever in the lab on one of our open days, feel free to come and try it out! Augmented reality seems to be the way that things are going these days, so come out and get a glimpse of the future here at the Felt Lab.