Apple Levels Up: Purchasing Mira, the Tech Whizzes Behind Mario Kart's AR Magic
Apple's strategic move to acquire Mira, the tech powerhouse behind Mario Kart's AR technology, signifies a promising future in the realm of AR and VR.
Apple Inc., the Silicon Valley tech giant known for its innovative and boundary-pushing technologies, has recently added another feather to its hat with the acquisition of Mira, the Augmented Reality (AR) startup known for its contributions to the technology found in the Mario Kart rides at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Mira's story is one of rapid growth and unexpected paths. The startup, initially based out of a dorm room, grew into a company whose AR technology is now a key part of a major theme park attraction. Mira's AR headset was designed into the Mario Kart dark ride at Universal Studios Japan, which opened Nintendo World on February 4th, 2021. The ride combines virtual images with video screens and sets, creating a unique and immersive experience for riders.
The headset is ingeniously designed for the high-throughput environment of a theme park, with a simple, low-cost design that offers wide eye relief and a large eye box, making it comfortable for anyone, even those wearing glasses. The component parts of the headset are easy to replace, sanitize, and are safe and durable, even under heavy use. The image quality is excellent, and although the image will be distorted due to the curved combiner, it doesn't significantly impact the experience on the ride
Mira's technology caught the attention of Apple, which acquired the company in a move that surprised many. At least 11 Mira employees, including CEO Ben Taft, have reportedly joined Apple as part of the acquisition. While Apple has remained mum on the specific plans it has for Mira, the acquisition seems to be a strategic move to strengthen its talent and intellectual property rights in the area of AR and VR.
In addition to its work in theme parks, Mira has been involved in military contracts and has promoted its headsets for use in manufacturing and mining settings. However, it remains uncertain whether these areas of operation will continue under Apple's ownership.
The acquisition is likely to bolster Apple's AR and VR capabilities, potentially providing the tech giant with new opportunities to innovate in these domains. As we wait for Apple's next steps, it's worth reflecting on the surprising journey of a small AR startup, from a dorm room to Mario Kart to Apple's lauded ranks.
While there's still much to learn about Apple's plans for Mira's technology, this acquisition promises to be a significant addition to Apple's ever-expanding portfolio of immersive tech. We await with bated breath the innovative applications this acquisition might inspire in Apple's future offerings.