One of the most interesting presentations during this week, in my opinion, is the one regarding Mira Prism, proposed by Jae Rin Choi.
Prism is an Augmented Reality head-mounted system produced by a very young company called Mira, with some very interesting features that make it probably a great step forward for what concerns AR. The innovation brought by this product is not linked to technology but to the possibility to become the first mass consumed system for Augmented Reality. There are four main characteristics that may make it so mainstream.
The first and most important characteristic is the price, while all the current AR solutions are very expensive (going from a range of 1000$ – 15000$), Prism costs only 99$ making it affordable to the majority of people. It can be possible because the device has no chips inside and all the elaborations are done by the smartphone that is put between the eyes and the screen where the images are projected. Like Google Cardboard for Virtual Reality, Prism is just a “passive” support for the smartphone, but the quality of the obtained 3D models are amazing pt the price.
Second, Mira has developed an SDK for developers for Unity and based on ARKit by Apple. Unity is well known among developers and ARKit is a great framework for augmented reality. Given that, there will be soon a lot of applications working on Prism that will increase the appeal of the product among consumers. Moreover Mira provides also Unity tutorials to give the possibility to everyone to start coding compatible applications.
Third, applications running on Prism allows collaboration between users. It means that while a user is looking at something in Augmented Reality through an app, any other people with that app can look at what the first user is experiencing using the smartphone. Moreover two user owning both the Prism can collaborate on the same Augmented Reality environment.
In my opinion this is a very cool feature and is impressive how it can be used on such a cheap device. The possibility to collaborate can be used in many different fields like work meetings, education or social activities like games.
Fourth, the device itself is without batteries and is pretty lightweight being only a plastic support. This make the device perfect for portability encouraging the users to bring the system always with him, maybe in a bag. This is possible also because of the low price that will make the owner care less about eventual damages.
Furthermore Prism will be the first entry-level Augmented Reality device and will allow the user to live a full AR experience without spending a huge amount of money. For this reason I think that this system may also help development of AR technologies because can make people more confident in using this kind of instruments. I think that if the only available devices are very expensive most people will look at them like weird prototypes and not like a concrete usable technology.
Obviously the low cost of Prism is given by a lack of features that can be found in most expensive models. An example is the interactions with the headset. While HoloLens recognize the gesture done with the hand thanks to a camera, Prism uses a Bluetooth remote that, despite the usability, can not be compared with more sophisticated ways to interact provided by HoloLens.
Another drawback is the lack of compatibility with Android devices but I think that it will be implemented as soon as possible, considering that Android AR framework is not as integrated as the one from Apple and that Prism has been officially released only few months ago.