Friday, November 16, 2018
AR GlassesAugmented RealityInterview

Aryzon: Closing the Price Gap In Augmented Reality

An interview with Alexander Ceha, CFO and co-founder of Aryzon, an AR company that seeks to make augmented reality experiences more accessible to everyday people.

New technologies start with a premium price and then become more affordable as the adoption rate goes up. However, the market for augmented reality headsets continues to revolve around the premium tier. From Microsoft HoloLens to Magic Leap One, AR headsets have a price in the range of thousands of dollars. For a group of Dutch university researchers, this was an opportunity: a gap in the market that they could fill with an affordable AR headset that uses the computing power of smartphones to create immersive experiences.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Aryzon’s CFO and co-founder, Alexander Ceha. Aryzon is an augmented reality company that has developed one of the first high quality, low-cost AR headsets and seeks to increase the accessibility of augmented reality experiences to everyday people and developers of all skill levels.

During the interview, Alex provided valuable insight on the gaps in the current market for augmented reality experiences and headsets.

 

JASON: Could you explain the Aryzon headset? What is it? How does it work?

The Aryzon Headset is a Google Cardboard approach to augmented reality.
ALEX: So, the Aryzon Headset is a Google Cardboard approach to augmented reality. It takes the high-end, expensive complexity of AR (like as we see with Magic Leap One and the HoloLens), and says: “You know what? You already have a very expensive tech device in your pocket–your phone.” The headset plays into that. It makes your smartphone the tool for creating the augmented reality experience, and the headset actually brings it into a stereoscopic view in front of your eyes. How it works is actually really simple. There is a mirror which reflects the images from your phone to a pair of two Fresnel lenses, which are extremely thin (1mm), and reflects the view from your phone screen onto a two-way mirror to create one clear reflection from your phone. That’s important because if you only use glass or plastic, you would see a ghost image because it would reflect off of both sides of the glass. The smartphone actually splits the image. The headset brings 2D AR (like we see with Snapchat and Pokemon Go) and brings it into stereoscopic 3D in your environment.

 

JASON: That’s awesome! So, you are one of the co-founders, right? What inspired you to create Aryzon?

ALEX: There are 5 co-founders. It’s a big team. Our CEO is a guy named Maarten Slaa, and he actually came up with the idea. He was working on a project at our University, which was the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The project was for something  augmented reality-esque, but the university didn’t have a HoloLens. They had backordered one, but it was taking its time arriving. He said “I could perhaps get the same effect with my phone.” Then he quickly decided that it would be interesting to use the phone and pieces of glass to create stereoscopic images. It worked. He approached us and pitched his idea. AR was on the rise at that time, so it was super interesting to us. So, we took the idea further and designed a headset out of it. Originally actually, we didn’t know if there would be market demand for it. So we started a kickstarter. We did it all ourselves – video, content, designs, graphics. It was a lot of work. In the end we raised over $100,000. That’s where this whole journey started.

The Aryzon founders
The Aryzon founders

 

JASON: What sets Aryzon apart from the other headsets on the market? What are its unique strengths?

ALEX: I think the main thing that we do really well is cost-effectiveness. If you want to jump into AR and explore the concept, the Aryzon headset is extremely nice because of its price point. It’s open SDK and runs through Unity, which means anyone, with no additional costs besides the price of the headset, can develop apps for the headset. Making the development for AR that accessible is one of our most unique strengths. Let’s say you’re a hobby developer and you want to eventually develop for HoloLens and Magic Leap? You’re gonna have to buy developer kits and learn a bunch of other extra headset specific skills to even begin to develop. With Aryzon, the process is much simpler because it takes much of the work out of it, as all developers need to do is develop their AR projects for the iPhone while the headset brings that 2D AR experience into a stereoscopic AR space.

If you want to jump into AR and explore the concept, the Aryzon headset is extremely nice because of its price point. It’s open SDK and runs through Unity, which means anyone, with no additional costs besides the price of the headset, can develop apps for the headset.

 

JASON: Given its price point and easy-to-use nature, how do you see Aryzon disrupting the AR headset market? Do you think it could increase adoption across different age groups than more expensive, harder to develop on, devices?

ALEX: I don’t know if disrupting is the right word. There is a gap in that market. The market is only high-end. We’re not really competing with the likes of HoloLens or Magic Leap. They’re different devices with different aims. I guess the disruptions will come when the smartphones can compete with likes of the higher-end devices. When they begin to put those sensors into smartphones – which you’re already startin

Aryzon headset
Aryzon headset

g to see with the iPhone X – and when smartphones can start reliably doing the same thing as the expensive headsets, we could see Aryzon disrupting the market.

In terms of different age-groups, we’re already seeing a lot of interest from educational  book publishers, and products aimed at younger age groups. They’re aimed at increasing the engagement of younger kids with their products, using augmented reality to keep them entertained. Also, kids can borrow their parent’s smartphone, so the expensive purchase is already made. I think we’re going to reach that adoption across different ages through using people like the publishers–people who already make the content for that age group who want to add a new dimension.

 

JASON: Do you have an ultimate goal for Aryzon? What’s your vision for the headset in the long run?

Our goal is really to share augmented reality. We want people to experience it, to see what it’s like, to play around with it and try to develop apps with it and see where AR can be used in everyday life to help people.
ALEX: I think our goal is really to share augmented reality. We want people to experience it, to see what it’s like, to play around with it and try to develop apps with it and see where AR can be used in everyday life to help people. We try to eliminate anything that slows down innovation in the AR space. We’re looking to democratize the development experience for AR and provide an accessible piece of hardware for users. In the long run, as a company, Aryzon is really gonna start focusing on developing expertise and software-based applications in augmented reality. Not only for our headsets but for the headsets that come into the market. Our main focus is to make the AR experience intuitive.

 

JASON: How can it be improved to meet your goal? How long do you think it will take to get there?

Alexander Ceha, CFO and co-founder, Aryzon
Alexander Ceha, CFO and co-founder, Aryzon

ALEX: Interestingly, we’re launching a second headset, also cardboard, but even lower cost than the current headset. We’re aiming to sell it at $15 and call it the Aryzon Pop-Up. Your phone goes in it and you’ll have similar experiences as with our headset, but with lower comfort. In terms of meeting our goal of democratization of the AR experience, I think we’ll need about 5 to 10 years. AR is still budding, and to be honest, once it becomes less invasive, we won’t see much mass adoption. Right now, we’re learning the basics on what’s useful and what isn’t (for the AR experience). We’re treating it as a learning experience overall.

 

See Also:  How Augmented Reality Glasses Work
Jason
the authorJason
Jason Rose is a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is passionate about augmented and virtual reality, and enjoys testing and reviewing AR/VR products.