While big tech firms are dumping millions of dollars in research and development to come up with their augmented reality products, a startup company has now gone a different route, and it seems like they may be on the right track. Instead of building their hardware, Mira has now introduced a $99 augmented reality headset that will utilize a user’s smartphone to produce the necessary visuals and to track movement.

A different approach

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Google Daydream, which are both used for virtual reality applications, the new Mira Prism is also dependent on the user’s smartphone for its core functions.

The headset currently only works with an iPhone 6 or newer handsets from Apple, but the company plans to add other handsets once they get the ball rolling.

Ingenious design

Virtual reality headsets currently work by showing two different images to each eye, which results in 3D images and videos. Augmented reality headsets, like Microsoft’s $4,000 Hololens, superimposes virtual images into the real-life environments, which then combines them into one seamless experience. Microsoft heavily focused on building the headset’s processors, sensors, and projectors small enough to fit into a portable headset. However, this required a lot of development, which ultimately translated to its steep price tag.

Mira, on the other hand, chose to use an imaging technique that is commonly seen in holograms, which involves reflecting a screen’s images and videos into a transparent glass. According to Mira co-founders Matt Stern and Ben Taft, they initially utilized off-the-shelf fish bowls to build their first prototype. The team eventually received funding and have now created a device that perfectly fits and works with an iPhone.

Check out the product demo video below:

For the masses

As of the moment, there aren’t a lot of options for consumers when it comes to purchasing an affordable augmented reality headset. Mira wants to change that with their product, which should be very accessible even for those who don’t want to necessarily invest a lot of money just to try out the experience.

The Mira Prism offers users the chance to augment up to 60-degrees of their field of view with objects appearing in 1,334x750 pixel resolution.

The company plans to ship the device with free augmented reality apps and games, including mixed-reality puzzles, digital battleships, and holographic chess. The device also comes with a remote that tracks the user’s movements. The remote can be used in different ways depending on the application, which includes it being used as a pointer, a paint brush, a magic wand, a trigger, and even as a fishing rod.