Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) tends to fall in one of two categories, really cheap like the popular AR title Pokemon GO or the very pricey, such as Microsoft HoloLens. Soon there will be another option, an AR headset that costs $99 USD and uses a smartphone – a kind of AR version of Gear VR – called Prism, designed by startup company Mira.
The brain child of Ben Taft, Matt Stern, and Montana Reed who met during the inaugural class of the University of Southern California’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation, the trio wanted to create an affordable AR headset that anyone could use.
So the Prism was born, a device that reflects a iOS smartphone screen back at the wearer using specially curved and coated lenses. Users simply open an app on their iPhone, slide the phone into the Prism headset then use the accompanying remote to navigate.
Mira’s technology allows multiple headset users to share an experience, whilst anyone with an iOS device (iPad or iPhone) can use Mira’s Spectator Mode to join the experience in real-time. Spectator Mode also allows users to record video or capture photos of their friends’ experience to share via social media.
“As developers, we wanted a way to build and experiment in AR without the need for expensive equipment, and as AR enthusiasts, we wanted the opportunity to play and explore without limits. We challenged ourselves to build a mobile headset that would make AR accessible to anyone,” said Ben Taft, co-founder and CEO of Mira in a statement. “Prism is a bridge between the physical and digital worlds and Mira is creating the thread that lets people connect and share experiences.”
To get to this stage Mira has revealed $1.5 million in seed funding, attained from Sequoia Capital, Troy Capital Partners, S-Cubed Capital, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, music artist and tech investor will.i.am, Jaunt VR founder Jens Christensen and more.
The company has partnered with several studio’s to create interactive AR experiences, not only for users but also for other developers to learn from. All of which will be available when the headset ships. Pre-orders are open now for $99 – the normal price will be $149 – with consumer editions shipping during the 2017 holidays (Christmas), while the developer edition will ship ‘Fall 2017’.
Mira isn’t the only company looking at affordable AR. Back in May Aryzon launched a Kickstarter campaign for a cardboard AR headset, proving to be very popular as its €25,000 EUR target was smashed, achieving just over €100,000.
As the AR market continues to expand VRFocus will bring you the latest updates.