Those of you with decent memories may remember VRFocus reporting on a startup company called Mira, which last year launched pre-orders for an affordable augmented reality (AR) headset, the Prism. Well the company has attended CES 2018 so VRFocus managed to get some hands-on time with the device to see if consumer priced headset AR does actual work.
The Mira Prism is as simple as it comes in compassion to more expensive AR headsets. It’s made up of two parts; the main plastic body which sits on your head and the removable clear lenses at the front which reflect the smartphone screen to see the AR content.
Firstly, the headset is very lightweight, even with a smartphone docked at the front it doesn’t feel front heavy making it easily usable for long durations – or the battery time of the smartphone installed. Just like a normal pair of glasses you soon forget what you’re wearing, other than the holograms in front of your vision.
What’s remarkable is the clarity of the image portrayed. Yes, the distance between the screen and lenses isn’t that great, but in a show like CES which is filled with artificial light the resulting images looked solid enough with reasonable detail. The content on show was for the new film Downsizing, where film stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig decide to start a new life by being shrunk to five inches tall. So the interactive experience was all about looking around to find items to shrink, with the trailer playing away in the background. After locating an item it was then a case of pointing the 3DoF remote and shrinking it. Not exactly amazing stuff – a lot of immersive movie tie-in experiences tend to be rubbish – but it gave enough of an idea about the visual quality and how everything worked.
While the objects were 3D and looked good enough, it was the 2D trailer playing away that was more eye catching. As mentioned the visual quality was very good which made the trailer a focal point rather than what was going on all around.
The remote itself was functional and easy to use, with very little difference to others such as the one supplied with Google Daydream. It’s not going to give the same level of control or immersion as a 6DoF device but at the price Mira is charging you can only expect so much.
And that price is very reasonable, with pre-orders going for $99 USD – an MRSP of $149 is listed on the website when it fully launches. The couple of issues that stand in the way at the moment is availability, the first batch is completely sold out, and the Mira Prism only supports iPhone 6/6s/7/8 with Android compatibility due at some point in the future.
For what it offers the Mira Prism looks to be a great introduction to AR headsets. It’s going for a market few are attempting – there’s also Aryzon – as the big boys like Microsoft HoloLens and Meta 2 are priced well out of the interest of most consumers. There is the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, but it does cost double the price and it’s nowhere near as ergonomic. Hopefully Mira will be able to ramp up production to get more developers involved, creating more content for a novel device.