With most augmented and mixed reality devices, you wear a purchased headset and use it alone, in a place of your choice—but not this one. Ben Sax decided to reinvent the binoculars to create a mixed reality experience that anyone can walk up to and try for free. He calls it the Perceptoscope.
The Perceptoscope looks like a binocular stand that you'd find in site-seeing locations, but instead of magnifying an image, it overlays or combines holographic content to provide an augmented or mixed reality experience (respectively). The device aims to take the visuals our eyes can process and add digital information to expand the possibilities of what binoculars can do.
Applications can vary, but on the simplest level, the Perceptoscope can help label points of interest in the user's view and provide contextual and historical data about observed location. It can handle more complex tasks, too, such as projecting information about the future. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) already put the Perceptoscope to this use in a Future of Cities program to demonstrate what L.A. could be if certain events occur.
While the Perceptoscope won't offer the immersive experience of a headset like the Microsoft HoloLens, it has the potential to bring stereoscopic augmented and mixed reality experiences to many more people at no cost to them. While current devices struggle to offer competitive pricing, the Perceptoscope demonstrates how we can bring this new technology to more people in a cost-effective way.