Picture: Brilliant Labs
A VR pioneer invests in augmented reality, funding an AR monocle that can communicate with ChatGPT.
A startup called Brilliant Labs is combining augmented reality with artificial intelligence and putting both technologies into a monocle. Founders Bobak Tavangar, Raj Nakarja and Benjamin Heald recently secured over $3 million in funding for the idea. Backers include big names in the tech industry.
Oculus founder backs AR monocle
Investors include Brendan Iribe, a co-founder of VR company Oculus, which was acquired by Meta in 2014, and Adam Cheyer, co-inventor of Apple’s voice assistant Siri. Iribe stepped down as CEO of Oculus two years after Meta’s acquisition, and left the former Facebook company for good in 2018 after disagreements over VR strategy.
Iribe, who long doubted the market viability of VR due to VR nausea, now seems to see potential in augmented reality startup Brilliant Labs. The company is trying to breathe fresh air into the AR industry with a new approach, building “Monocle,” an AR lens that can be clipped onto any conventional eyeglass frame.
AR Monocle with ChatGPT support
The AR Monocle has an open source approach. This allows users to create their own applications that can interact with ChatGPT and other generative AI applications.
A group of Stanford students have developed an app that uses GPT-4 to generate text suggestions on a smartphone that appear directly on the Monocle’s display. For example, the tinkerers provided suggestions for what to say next on a date.
Using the smartphone’s microphone, the app listens to the conversation and instructs ChatGPT to generate suggestions. These are transmitted to Monocle in real time via Bluetooth and displayed in the field of view.
Brilliant Labs itself has developed a similar app, “arGPT”, which uses Monocle’s built-in microphone to enable dialog with GPT-4.
Small, lightweight and affordable AR lens
Launched last March, Monocle is priced at $349, making it much more affordable than AR headsets like Magic Leap 2 or the recently announced Apple Vision Pro. The lens fits in any pocket, weighs just 15 grams, and can be attached to any headset or held in front of the eye by hand.
Five different processors work inside. An FPGA accelerator chip processes the data captured by the camera, microphone, and capacitive touch sensor. For now, Monocle still requires a smartphone as a feed. In the future, however, it should be possible to connect directly to the cloud to run apps.