When I first put on the Mira Prism augmented reality headset, I was skeptical. AR is a proven concept in fields like surgery and mechanics, but nobody’s made a good pair of glasses for everyday use. They’re not cheap enough, they’re not sleek enough, and there’s not enough to do on them. But as I was surprised to find, Mira isn’t just another company with a clunky proof of concept and some big promises. Yes, the Prism is as weird-looking as lots of AR headsets — and for most people, it’ll be more novel than useful — but it’s the first headset I’ve seen that won’t charge you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for that novelty.
The Mira Prism doesn’t contain any electronics. It’s a shell like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google’s Daydream View, but for augmented reality. To use it, you open a Mira-enabled app on your iPhone, then slide it into the Prism. The screen faces away from you and toward a transparent visor, which reflects the image back across your vision. Objects appear to float in front of you, rendered in stereoscopic 3D. The experience is very different from “mixed reality” that pipes a camera feed into a VR headset, because you’re seeing the real world at full resolution through your own eyes.
And things will get exciting again, sooner than you know it. This Fall, Apple is expected to reveal a 10th-anniversary iPhone, Google will likely reveal a revamped Pixel smartphone, and Microsoft is expected to hold another one of its regular late-October Surface computer press conferences.
In the meantime, there’s not much to do but reflect on what we’ve learned so far this year about the future of tech. And beyond the hype and the hyperbole, we’re starting to see the very earliest stages of a battle for the next phase of computing.
Because while Apple and Google may dominate the smartphone market today, technologies like augmented reality present whole-new platforms where there’s no clear winner. So Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, having missed out on owning a mobile platform, are doing their damndest to hasten the end of the smartphone — and the end of Apple and Google’s duopoly, while they’re at it.
Here’s a dose of reality. Google Glass has been piloted in the enterprise for months. Google Glass Enterprise Edition is launching with real customers–Agco, DHL, GE and Sutter Health–but more importantly Android never really left the corporate field.