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This strange contraption brings AR to your iPhone for $100

iPhone AR Glasses

Apple confirmed at WWDC 2017 what we already knew: augmented reality (AR) will play a big role in the future of the iPhone, starting with iOS 11. But you won’t have to wait for iOS 11 to arrive in order to experience AR on the iPhone. A new startup is already taking preorders for the strange glasses in the image above, which can deliver iPhone-based AR experiences right now.

The best part of Mira’s Prism headset is that it won’t block your view. This is augmented, not virtual reality, which means AR apps place content on top of real-life objects in your field of vision.

Then there’s that unusual design, which is probably the most peculiar thing about this contraption. But the design is a result of the concept behind Prism. The AR headset is powered by an iPhone, meaning it doesn’t have any smart parts. An app on the iPhone will produce AR content, and the glasses will simply reflect those images in front of your eyes, right on top of the physical world around you.

Because it has no internal components, this AR accessory costs just $100. That’s incredibly cheap compared to the $3,000 that Microsoft charges for its HoloLens prototype.

The Prism is supposed to be a practical, lightweight instrument that can project stereoscopic images using the iPhone’s screen. That’s all it has to do. But the results are pretty impressive, though Mira’s AR doesn’t seem to look as good as Microsoft’s HoloLens. Furthermore, it remains to be seen whether the Prism glasses will work with ARKit content in the future.

Even so, at $100, the Prism glasses are definitely one type of accessory you could try while you’re teaching yourself how to use AR. After all, AR is only in its infancy, even for Mira.

“We are increasingly fascinated with digital reality and AR, and blending both the real and virtual worlds,” cofounder and CEO of Mira, Ben Taft, told GamesBeat. “We wanted to experiment, but the only way to do that was with kits that cost thousands of dollars. We couldn’t do that, and so Mira was born out of necessity.”

The glasses should ship at some point this fall, and they’re available for pre-order at this link.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.