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PSA: It’s Time for an Affordable Augmented Reality Device

PSA: It’s Time for an Affordable Augmented Reality Device
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Could Polylens do for AR what Cardboard did for VR?

Melanie Ehrenkranz

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.

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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.

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“I hope it will do what Cardboard did for VR,” Keynejad told PSFK in an email.

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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:

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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.

Sabba Keynejad

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