Despite execs’ show of support for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies, Apple’s iPhones have sadly been mostly left out of the party. Google Cardboard and similar headsets are a far cry from the more sophisticated equipment you’d find in products like the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, or even the Gear VR. That, however, might soon change, with Occipital now offering a VR Dev Kit that specifically targets Apple’s devices and platforms, like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and the Mac.
Viewing virtual reality content is one thing and even cheap headsets compatible with iPhones can provide that. But creating new content and feeling the full interactivity of VR and AR is something that has, so far, only been limited to Windows PCs and Android devices. Occipital’s VR dev kit gives iPhones more than a fighting chance. It also provides a feature that few or no current VR platform offers: room-scale VR.
Most VR headsets allow users to experience only a small portion of a virtual world via rotating from a fixed point. In fact, it’s not recommended to use those while moving. More sophisticated setups, like the upcoming PlayStation VR, do offer a wider area of movement, but still limited by the cameras you set at the perimeter and the wires that tether you to the console.
Occipital’s VR Dev Kit, on the other hand,turns your whole room into your play area, through a combination of two of the company’s technologies. Structure Sensor is what its name says. It can map out the room, including obstacles you might (but hopefully not) walk into. The Bridge Engine then takes this information to create a virtual reality reconstruction of the room, overlaying information like boundaries or signs, or even completely new worlds on top of the real one, while still following the limitations set by hard surfaces and structures.
The VR Dev Kit, as the name also implies, isn’t a final product. It’s meant more for developers to test out or create content by attaching a Structure Sensor on the back of an iPhone and then strapping the iPhone into a Homido 1 VR HMD. Eventually, Occipital’s goal is for hardware makers to license its technologies and place them in final products. And with a price tag of $500, you’re already assured that this is no consumer device just yet.