Augmented reality headset begins development

Andrew Shermoen

The Meta 2 is a new augmented reality headset that just recently became available to pre-order for $949. This headset differs from others by simply adding virtual images into the real world. In that way it is similar to the Microsoft HoloLens. The Meta 2 is incredibly unique in its programming and seeks to be the sleekest and most useful augmented reality headset of its kind.

The Meta 2 isn’t virtual reality. Virtual reality creates purely artificial worlds rendered via computers or pre-recorded film. Augmented reality uses the real physical world and projects holograms into it through realistic 3-D models. Virtual reality headsets are usually enclosed, with darkened glasses or a simple cover over the headset, whereas augmented reality sets, like the Meta, use see-through glasses so the user can still see the world around him or her while using the headset.

The Meta is capable of several different features. It is already aligned with several companies including Spotify, Microsoft Office and Zoom, a video conferencing service. This means video conferencing will be as easy as projecting a virtual hologram of a person you are conversing with onto a solid surface. Microsoft Office will allow a person to access and read emails right in front of their eyes and remove them from view with a simple swipe of the hand.

Meta has also paired with several different medicine companies to create simulations that will train and prepare doctors. One of these companies is SimX, who has recently created programs to help teach doctors how to properly handle patients to reduce the number of deaths that happen due to medical errors.

“Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report that showed us that we were, unfortunately, killing about 98,000 patients a year and wasting about $79 billion in medical error,” said Ryan Ribeira, the CEO of SimX.

The program they have created allows a computer program to render multiple different possible patients who are undergoing many different symptoms that doctors will have to handle. Virtual reality can do this as well, but it means not being able to interact and see the real world around you. With the Meta 2, the see-through eye covering will allow a doctor using SimX to still see their fellow nurses and doctors, as well as the tools they will need to perform an operation.

The Meta 2 also is practicing with many other functions, such as education. A picture on their website details an app that can show detailed muscle and skeletal structures when a person looks at their body while wearing the Meta 2, which could also come in handy in the field of medicine, as well as teach nursing and medical students about anatomy. The company is also working to create easy to use 3-D modeling software.

Wesley Gately, junior history major, is an avid video game fan who is very intrigued by new virtual reality innovations.

“It’s a whole new level of gaming; you’re immersed into it,” Gately said.

When asked about the abilities of the Meta 2, Gately said that the technology, though impressive ,will not immediately create huge waves in the medical industry.

“I think it’s going to take a little while for this to be grasped by larger society because no matter how realistic it is, it still isn’t real … I think eventually people are going to jump aboard for all sorts of things,” Gately said.

Gately said that while the idea of holographic video conferencing is intriguing, it won’t be enough to draw in large crowds.

“I don’t think that’s a draw for people,” Gately said. “If I had the headset though, that would be a plus. It’s not the main reason I would get one though.”

On the topic of purchasing a headset, Gately said that it will be a while before virtual and augmented reality really become a popular commodity.

“I think for the really high quality stuff, for that to take off, the prices will need to fall,” he said.