PSA: It’s Time for an Affordable Augmented Reality Device
Could Polylens do for AR what Cardboard did for VR?
Oof. As stands, getting your face on a HoloLens is ‘invite only’ and will cost you an arm and a leg (that is, if your arm and leg collectively cost $3,000). The Meta 2 costs almost $1,000. Even Google Glass (RIP) is still priced at least a couple hundred bucks on eBay. For those looking to affordably experience augmented reality, the options are slim—which is why designer and developer Sabba Keynejad has created a DIY AR device, the Polylens, which costs under $30 to make.
The handmade Polylens AR device isn’t something you can whip up at home on a whim—it’ll require a trip to your local laser-cutting shop and some chemical coats to bond the parts together—but the objective is what makes this DIY HoloLens so interesting: to allow for the mainstream adoption of what is currently a pricy piece of hardware.
“I hope it will do what Cardboard did for VR,” Keynejad told PSFK in an email.
To create the Polylens, Keynejad sketched designs in Illustrator, had the parts shaped at a laser-cutting shop, bonded the pieces together with four coats of a chemical solution, waited for it to dry, removed any extra film with a knife, and then cleaned and polished the final product. He hacked the Cardboard SDK to create a preview concept app, placed his smartphone on top of the lens, and voila:
The New York Times shipped over one million Cardboard headsets to its subscribers last year and troves of branded Cardboard headsets are being used as marketing gimmicks regularly. Right now, I could shell out just $15 and my own VR headset would be merrily on its way to my face. Augmented reality on the other hand has remained a more exclusive experience. Microsoft invited a select few to test out the HoloLens in a secret room in New York City. The late Google Glass was glasshole-shamed out of bars, restaurants and movie theaters. If I wanted to experience AR right now, I could download an app like Blippar and view AR through my smartphone screen, but a wearable experience is out of my budget.
That’s what makes Polylens so intriguing, it’s an affordable and WEARABLE alternative to the HoloLens and Meta 2. While I doubt the average person is going to laser-cut their own AR device upon reading this, I do think we are going to see more handmade alternatives popping up out of the maker movement until someone (*cough* Google *cough*) offers up a one-click affordable AR device option.