Meron Gribetz has a hard time sitting down when he’s talking about his augmented-reality startup, Meta. Grinning, he stands or paces as he explains that he had always wanted to create a way to bring digital information into the real world to make it easier to absorb. Then in 2011, sunlight shimmering through an airplane window hit the lens of his sunglasses and made him realize how he would do it.
Since then, he’s managed to raise $73 million in funding to go up against rivals like Microsoft and its HoloLens device. Why the excitement?
This year, Gribetz unveiled the company’s latest headset, the Meta 2, which sells for less than a third of what the HoloLens headset is going for. It lets you do things like grab and prod 3-D imagery with your hands, or conduct a video call with another Meta user, who can hand you a virtual object that you can then inspect from any angle.
Both the Meta and the HoloLens are aimed at software developers, who will have to come up with applications. But Gribetz, who was raised in Israel by American parents, is aggressively optimistic about the technology because he thinks it will let us ditch devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets for one super-mobile package. Within five years, he imagines, AR headsets will be reduced to a strip of glass over your eyes that’s “nearly invisible.”
Meta is building software meant to be more intuitive to navigate than windows and icons. Gribetz believes so deeply in AR’s promise, in fact, that he’s pushing his own employees to stop using computer monitors and mouses with their laptops by next spring; instead, the company will rely on Meta 2 and its hand-tracking capabilities to help them get their work done.