Mobile VR is an Android game, but as more and more rumors flourish about the next iPhone, some companies are looking to get developers ready to bring iOS users into the world of VR.
Occipital announced today that it is launching a mixed reality platform built upon its depth-sensing technologies called Bridge. The headset is available for $399 and starts shipping in March; eager developers can get their hands on an Explorer Edition for $499, which starts shipping next week. In September, the company showed off an early model of the headset, though it didnt really play up the devices mixed reality capabilities.
The headset is built upon the companys depth-sensing 3D Structure sensor, which offers advanced image mapping at a much higher frame rate than Googles Tango camera due to the fact that its an external device with its own battery supply. The Structure sensor retailsfor $379, which makes the $399 price for Bridge pretty tolerable, given that it includes one of the sensors. The headsetis compatible with iPhone 6/6S and 7 models.
The iPhone camera really only offers a pinhole view into the world when the display ispressed up against your face, so Occipital has included a 120-degree wide-angle lens add-on to lessen this effect. Its still not totally comfortable, but its definitely tolerable for short periods.
The iPhone is definitely a huge platform that hasnt seen a ton of love when it comes to AR or VR, but part of that is the fact that the phone doesnt have an OLED screen or any VR optimization mode like Android to keep thehead-tracking latency low. This means you wont really want to use this headset unless youre a developer. iPhones are allegedly getting OLED screens in their next iteration, according to some rumors, but its largely impossible to know whats happening in Cupertino until Jony says the magic words and the products gyrate in front of you.
I got to take an earlier model of the headset for a test drive recently and, while these current-generation iPhones definitely are not the most suited for mixed reality, the Structure sensor most definitely is. Rapid environment mapping allows users to place digital objects on real-world surfaces as the sensor produces a 3D mesh of the space youre in. This also allows full positionally tracked room-scale in a mobile VR headset, which operated quite well.