Mira’s Prism headset uses your iPhone to deliver affordable augmented reality
Because few people are ready to part with $3,000 to try Microsoft’s HoloLens version of augmented reality, we’ve been waiting for a cheaper solution — and now it’s here, in the form of the Prism.
Developed by Los Angeles-based Mira, the device is to the HoloLens what the Samsung Gear VR is to the Oculus Rift. It’s much, much cheaper, and more lightweight and portable, but don’t expect the same kind of AR experience you’d get with the HoloLens.
And like the Gear VR, all you need to make it work is a smartphone — in this case the iPhone. I had a chance to test it out last week and it was impressive, although I had a hard time coming up with reasons I’d actually use it at this point. In addition to the headset (which is incredibly well-designed), you also get a separate controller that allows you to interact with AR games and objects.
During my demo, I played one game that allowed me to shoot aliens floating in a virtual constellation, and during another I played against another Prism user in the same room as we both controlled characters moving through a virtual maze. And if your friends don’t have a Prism headset, they can watch the game on a separate iPhone or iPad in spectator mode by using the Mira app.
The translucent quality of the AR images and limited field of view doesn’t make this a great tool for watching movies, so it remains to be seen exactly what uses developers might come up with for it.
Another hurdle is that Disney revealed a similar, smartphone-powered AR device last week. It’s a partnership with Lenovo and it comes with a Star Wars light saber training game.
That’ll be hard to beat.
And because this is a fairly simple device in terms of cost and design, we can expect more smartphone-powered AR devices to start cropping up from other companies in the coming months.
“We founded Mira as we genuinely believe the possibilities of AR are endless and this is another great example of that,” co-founder and CEO Ben Taft said when asked about the challenge from Disney’s new AR device. “We’re particularly excited to see how Disney makes this a reality for Star Wars fans.”
Even in the face of Disney’s AR device and the coming wave of Apple ARKit-powered AR apps, the team behind the device seems confident about their chances. To that end, Mira just opened up pre-orders for the Prism (which is aimed at developers for now) for $99 and they plan to ship the device in the fall.