We feature many great gadgets of all shapes and sizes on this site. Some offer small upgrades, while others will radically improve your daily existence. But few have the potential to alter the landscape of future technology like Avegant’s new headset. They looks ridiculous, but these glasses mix the real and virtual worlds in a unique way. Instead of experiencing digital content on a screen, you can see it floating above your palm. One day, this technology might just kill the smartphone.

– New prototype offers remarkable 3D mixed reality experience

– Allows wearers to see and interact with digital content in the real world

– Unique layered imaging system provides a realistic sense of depth

Mixed Reality

In order to predict the future, you need to understand the present. Right now, there are two major forms of immersive visual technology. Virtual reality is much like being locked into your own 360-degree personal cinema.

In contrast, augmented reality allows digital content to run free in the real world. You can put a tiny elephant on your couch, or watch as your friends turn into zombies. The problem is, most people only experience augmented reality by staring at their smartphone.

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You may have encountered the technology while playing Pokémon Go. When you bump into a wild beast, the game “projects” the animal onto the sidewalk. It works by combining video from the real world (via the camera) and overlaying it with digital images.

The first few times you see a Pokémon outside your local corner shop, it blows your mind a little. But after the novelty wears off, it becomes completely uninteresting. In the end, you are just staring at imaginary things on a screen…again.

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The difference between this and the experience of wearing Avegant’s headset is quite profound. Firstly, you are actually seeing the real world with your own eyes, not through your phone. Secondly, the projected images have extraordinary depth.

Layered Wonders

Much like Google Glass, Avegant’s headset has see-through lenses. Images are then projected onto the glass, so they appear in your line of sight.

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But replicating a 3D world on a 2D lens is not easy. Most headsets rely on a slight shift of perspective for each eye. In many cases, this can fool your brain into feeling a sense of depth.

Avegant mixed reality headset

Unfortunately, the illusion breaks down within arm’s reach. This is because your eyes would normally focus differently for things far away or close by. Without these visual cues, your brain is completely lost.

Avegant aims to solve this problem by splitting virtual images into layers. With this headset, you can easily focus on the beating heart seemingly floating above your palm. Likewise, more distant virtual objects blend seamlessly with their surroundings.

The uses for this technology are ridiculously exciting. Quite apart from immersive gaming, you could read emails on your hand rather than via your phone. Incoming calls would appear on a virtual smartwatch, and you could type in passwords with total privacy.

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Future Potential

Eventually, Avegant’s technology will probably be condensed into a sleeker version of Google Glass. In fact, such a headset may be indistinguishable from everyday reading glasses.

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The current reality, however, is that Avegant’s headset is bulky and tethered. Plus, it’s the ugliest thing you have ever seen. Realistic augmented reality will not be entering our daily lives any time soon.

Just reserve your place in the line — because when this thing lands, it’s going to spark a revolution.

How would you use Avegant’s technology? Send us your ideas in the comments!