This iPhone-Compatible VR Headset Is Equipped With A 3D Scanner
Bridge uses positional tracking to mix real and virtual worlds
VR enthusiasts who were still holding on to their iPhones can breathe a sigh of relief, as the wait for an Apple-compatible mobile VR headset is over. This particular device does not come from the tech giant however, but from Occipital, a three-year-old startup dedicated to spacial computing. Compatible with iPhone 6, 6s and 7, Bridge relies on position-tracking, making it one of the most powerful mobile VR headsets on the market.
Occipital first hit the papers back in 2014, with its very successful Kickstarter campaign. They raised over $1.2 million to develop Structure Sensor, a 3D scanner for mobile devices which lets users make 3D maps of indoor spaces or instant 3D models of objects and people.
Now, the company decided to use the power of depth awareness to transform a mobile VR headset into a mixed reality powerhouse, bridging the virtual and physical worlds. Thanks to the Structure Sensor mounted on top of it, Bridge knows exactly where you are in space and adapts the virtual world accordingly. It can also warn you if you are about to run into a real-life object.
But that’s not all. Bridge comes equipped with an AI entity called Bridget. This cute little robot can learn the spatial composition of a room and thus interact with its surroundings. For example, if you throw a virtual ball at it, it will chase after it, avoiding coffee tables, sofas or other items that happen to be in its way. Bridget can be trained via the mobile-optimized Bridge Engine which can render mixed reality experiences at high frames.
Occipital is not the only company on the market that understands the power of mixed reality combined with depth awareness—Google has the Tango tablet, Microsoft, the HoloLens headset, Intel, the freshly-announced Project Alloy, an “all-in-one virtual reality solution” that uses RealSense technologies, and Oculus is working on its new Santa Cruz headset, presented at Oculus Connect in October. However, the Bridge headset has one considerable advantage over the rest, especially from the end-consumer standpoint: it is relatively cheap and does not require learning a new, complicated hardware. Not to mention, that it provides the best user experience for iPhone users who have been forgotten in the mobile VR race so far.
The Bridge Explorer Edition, targeted at the developer community, is available for $499 and will start shipping this week. The consumer-oriented model is available for pre-order for $399 and will start shipping in March.
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Palmer Luckey is the founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift, a consumer virtual reality headset. Prior to starting Oculus VR, Palmer attended California State University and worked as an engineer at the Mixed Reality Lab at the Institute for Creative Technologies focusing on developing cost-effective virtual reality.