Lets promote our nations innovations! Click here

Follow us for regular updates on Australian and NZ innovation  

First Look: The Meta 2 AR Headset

 First Look: The Meta 2 AR Headset

The Meta 2 Developer Kit on display at SOLIDWORKS World 2018.

The Meta 2 Augmented Reality (AR) headset took center stage at last week’s SOLIDWORKS World 2018 in Los Angeles, where Meta CEO Meron Gribetz gave a live demo of the headset’s capabilities. Gribetz wowed the audience by interacting with a CAD model of a motorcycle, grasping it to zoom and rotate, applying new color schemes, and easily popping it to 1:1 scale on the stage.

  Meta CEO Meron Gribetz plays with an AR motorcycle on stage at SOLIDWORKS World.

“It gives me goosebumps because for all you creators, you now do it in 3D … it’s fricking awesome,” Gribetz said to the crowd.

After the presentation, I got a chance to get hands-on (head-on?) with the Meta 2 to see how awesome it really is. Here’s a first look at what you can expect from it.

The Specs

Let’s talk about the specs. According to Meta’s Joseph Mikhail, Meta 2 beats out competitor Microsoft’s HoloLens in almost every way: it’s got a wider field of view, higher resolution and lower cost. In fact, looking at the specs, Meta 2 is more than twice as good as HoloLens across the board:

 

Meta 2

HoloLens

Field of View

90°

35°

Resolution

2.5K

720p

Cost (USD)

$1,495

$3,000

There is one catch: while HoloLens is a wireless headset, Meta 2 is tethered to your computer. According to Mikhail, that’s by design. The hard tether is currently the only way for Meta 2 to achieve its excellent resolution, which is often more important to designers. 

The resolution of the Meta 2 really is impressive. You can see clear details of your AR model, and text appears sharp and crisp. For engineers who want to see a photorealistic representation of their model in AR, Meta 2 is the only way to go.

  Footage shot through a Meta 2 headset. The picture doesn’t do the Meta’s resolution justice, but in person the car looks crisp and clear. (Image courtesy of Meta).

AR Interaction

The best part of AR isn’t just seeing your model in real life, but being able to interact with it. Meta 2 uses inside-out tracking that enables designers to manipulate their model. Forget about gestures—Meta strives to achieve what Mikhail calls “immersive natural interactions.” The goal is to interact with an AR model as naturally as if it was a real object in the real world.

So far, the only immersive natural interaction on the Meta 2 is a hand grab. You close your fist on an object to grab it, and that lets you move it (one hand), or rotate and zoom it (two hands). Though that sounds easy enough, in practice this gesture is still a bit clunky. You have to clearly splay your fingers in an open palm both before and after the grab gesture or the Meta 2 is apt to get confused. It usually took me a few tries to grab an object, which is less of an immersive natural interaction than a frustrated user clawing vainly at the air.

  You can rotate and zoom your model with the Meta 2 using intuitive (albeit clunky) hand grabs. (Image courtesy of Meta).

But I can forgive the current clumsiness of the hand grab because once you manage to do it right, it’s extremely satisfying to be able to play around with a virtual CAD model. The Meta 2 provides a virtual platform on which to view your models, with virtual shortcuts to switch between configurations, view isolated parts and see exploding animations. You simply grab the icon for what you want—say, a 1:1 scaling or a color change—and drop it on your model to see the changes take effect.

  The Meta 2 virtual platform, with configuration and display models on the lower shelf. (Image courtesy of SOLIDWORKS).

The Verdict

You don’t have to be a visionary to see that AR and VR are going to revolutionize the way engineers design. Meta 2 is a great starting point for AR—not without some hiccups, but with everything you need to start seeing the benefits of taking your models into the real world.

To learn more about Meta, check out SOLIDWORKS and Meta Partner to Bring 3D CAD in AR

                                 Courtesy; www.engineering.com