Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Startup Launches out of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation.
Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre were recording engineers, producers, executive producers, partners in a record label, creators of Beats headphones and now, founders of the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and Business Innovation at the University of Southern California. They’re also the stars and focal points of the critically acclaimed HBO documentary min-series, The Defiant Ones.
After selling Beats by Dre to Apple for $3 billion dollars the music moguls reached a pinnacle in their career. They had similar trajectories until the joined forces to form Death Row Records in the 90’s. The only way the two men really differ is that Iovine has never rapped on an album.
Both men are self made success stories with drive and ambition. To give back to the local Dr. Dre’s local community the two men launched the school to help spur entrepreneurs in the realms of arts, and technology. The worlds of virtual reality and augmented reality are right up the school’s alley.
Ben Taft, the CEO and co-founder of Mira met his co-founders, Matt Stern and Montana Reed, while they were all part of the inaugural class at the school last year. The company wanted to make augmented reality (kin to virtual reality) affordable and easy to use for the masses by creating a device they call Prism.
Prism is similar to the virtual reality headsets you can find that incorporate your own smartphone like Samsung’s Gear accept they open up the world to augmented reality instead of virtual reality. In augmented reality, objects, and content in 3D appear in “real world” through a headset or app that can see what’s in their surroundings.
It’s augmented reality that drove the creation of Ninatic’s Android cult favorite, Ingress. You may know the game by it’s new name, Pokemon Go, a relaunch of the game infused with Pokemon characters and themes. So may consider Pokemon Go to be Ingress inspired and not an evolution of the game. Either way, if you’ve played the game you’re familiar with how the Pokemon characters appear in the world around you. Augmented reality is the technology that puts things around you and makes them interactive.
Augmented reality is also the technology that powers Zpace an edtech startup that brings augmented reality to the classroom. In the case of Zspace, augmented reality brings frogs to dissect and beating hearts to analyze to the front of the students eyes using augmented reality glasses and a special computer program. The objects appear right before the students eyes.
Mira, The downtown Los Angeles based startup has raised $1.5 million dollars in seed funding to bring their Prism device to market. Sequoia Capital, Troy Capital Partners, S-Cubed Capital, SalesForce founder Marc Beinoff, Will.I.Am and Jaunt VR founder Jens Christensen all participated in the round, according to L.A. Biz.
The Prism headset will ship in time for the holidays and only cost $99 bringing the availability of augmented reality to the masses. You can stay up to date with Mira and Prism here.