If you follow the latest advancements in AR technology you will surely know Magic Leap. This multi-billion dollar (with a “B”) company promised a new way of augmented reality that would change the way we see things, literally! After several years their first developer kit was released to mostly lukewarm reception. It was not much more advanced compared to the Microsoft Hololens, and couldn’t deliver anywhere near the experience they promised originally. However, this story is not about Magic Leap or the Microsoft Hololens. On this page we will take a look at a little company named Aryzon, and their flagship product the Aryzon Pop Up. Does this Cardboard AR device live up to the hype?

What is Aryzon?

It’s sounds like an origin story worthy of a superhero movie. Five industrial design students operating from the Netherlands formed a team. Founder Maarten brought the best and brightest minds together with the same goal: Make augmented reality available to everyone. This was a bold claim in April of 2016, and is still an accomplishment few people can pull off to this day. Like most heartwarming stories this one also started with a struggle, mostly about money…

A successful Kick-off

Fortunately the digital age has allowed visionaries the luxury of presenting their ideas to a mass audience, and ask them for a bit of money in the process. Or rather an investment. Aryzon was founded on the principle of crowdfunding, with a successful Kickstarter campaign which attracted close to 3000 backers and quadrupled their goal with over $100.000,- in pledges. That’s not surprising, the promise of a low budget AR headset capable of delivering semi-holographic images was a bold proposal. At this time only Microsoft could offer a similar experience at $3000,-.

Further development

Before the latest Aryzon Pop Up there were several incarnations of the AR Cardboard headset, with incremental refinements made to the original design. For instance, the original design was not yet a true wearable device. Although a head strap was part of the plan, it was a stretch goal that would only be implemented if the Kickstarter campaign would reach $100.000,-. And because it did the head strap was added to the final product. At first a simple headband was designed, the current Aryzon Pop Up product features a third elastic band that fits snugly over the top of the head. This reduces the weight on the face for a more comfortable experience. Other less noticeable refinements were made along the way.

With or without a marker

In 2016 augmented reality technology relied on marker based solutions. Most AR markers consist of a black-and-white flat paper image that indicates the location where the virtual object should appear. For a regular HUD (Heads Up Display) this wouldn’t be necessary, for more advanced tracking in the three dimensional space a reference point is required. In late 2017 both Apple and Google created a software development kit for iOS and Android respectively that allows for real-time tracking without the use of markers. The new Aryzon software is able to scan the environment for accurate placement without the need for a dedicated marker. This feature is only supported on devices that can either run ARKit (Apple) or ARCore (Android). Older apps still work with the original marker based approach.

Aryzon Pop Up

A new, redesigned Aryzon headset was announced to the original backers on may 1, 2018 that improved on many aspects of the original design. Although the Aryzon AR Cardboard remains as one of the few phone based AR headsets, the design team wanted to push the boundaries of affordable AR technology. The new advancements in mobile AR have breathed new life into the ambitions of the company. High end AR headsets fail to live up to the promises that were made years ago, and after the AR gimmicks in devices like the iPhone X the consumers are asking for the next step. But not the next expensive step like the Microsoft Hololens, the Magic Leap One, the professional Daqri headset or even the new Google Glass. These are all fine (beta) products, but they are all aimed at a niche market, at least for the next few years.

Why use Cardboard AR?

In november 2018 Aryzon released a new app for both iOS and Android named AR Studio. This free application brings augmented reality to a whole new dimension. The user can browse for 3D models in both the Sketchfab and the Google Poly library, you can download the models and view them in AR using the Aryzon Pop Up Cardboard AR. The new app features native support for both ARKit and ARCore which makes markerless tracking a reality. With thousands of models to choose from (including animated 3D models) every user can examine complex models from every angle. Just a few years ago this would have required an expensive, large and heavy AR headset, now it’s possible with just your regular phone, the Aryzon app and the Cardboard holder. This could cause a disruption in the augmented reality market for education, promotion and in other fields. The low price allows for the purchase of larger volumes, and Aryzon even offers branded AR Cardboards for commercial applications.