Right now, virtual reality is mostly dominated by the Android market. Rumors surrounding mobile virtual reality constantly appear and with so much talk about what to expect in next year’s 10th anniversary iPhone, developers are ready to bring iOS into the world of virtual reality.
Occipital announced today that it is launching a mixed reality platform that is built using its depth-sensing technology formally called “Bridge.” The headset will be available for $400.00 and shipping starts in March. Eager early adopters can get their hands on an Explorer Edition for $500.00 which ships as soon as next week. In September, the company revealed an early model of the headset but at the time, they did not do much to demonstrate the mixed reality capabilities that are now one of the devices biggest appeal factors.
The headset is build upon Occipital’s depth sensing 3D structure sensor which makes it possible to utilize advanced image mapping at a much higher frame rate than Google’s Tango camera due to the fact that it is an external device with its own battery supply.
The Structure sensor will sell for $380.00 which makes the $400.00 price for Bridge seem modest in comparison. The Structure will include one of the same sensors. The headset is compatible with the iPhone 6, 6S, and all models of the 7. The iPhone camera really only offers a pinhole view into the world when the display is pressed up against your face so Occipital included a 120 degree wide angle lens that can lesson this limiting effect. It is not fully comfortable but can be easily tolerated for short periods of time.
It is almost unbelievable that a platform as popular as the iPhone has gone this long without any serious attention from augmented reality and virtual reality developers. Part of this is easily attributed to the iPhone’s lack of an OLED screen or any virtual reality optimization modes that help keep head-tracking latency low. According to reliable rumors, the next iteration of iPhone models will include OLED screens. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how accurate this is until Jony Ive makes the official announcement next year.
Rapid environment mapping allows users to place digital objects on real-world surfaces. The sensor then produces a 3D mesh of the space you are in. The current generation iPhones do not seem the most ready for virtual mixed reality as their performance paled in comparison to Android devices put through the same testing conditions. However, developers will enjoy using this new lines of products and in a very short period of time, we will likely see more virtual and mixed reality devices being supported with iOS devices in years to come.
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