Virtual Reality In Your Pocket…Right Down to the Viewer
I’ve talked recently on my science and tech podcast, Sovryn Tech, about how the real future of Virtual Reality (or “VR”) and its siblings (Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality) is in the mobile space. Google Cardboard, Samsung’s GearVR, and I think even a reoriented HTC will all be the major driving forces in VR that comes from your smartphone, and since nearly everyone owns (or will own) a smartphone today, the infrastructure is there for great VR experiences to be had.
But those VR experiences–which don’t need to be graphically impressive as I’m sure they will be on the PC–need to be as portable as the smartphones themselves. Recently at the Dark Android Project I wrote about how Samsung will be releasing very portable motion controllers called “Rink” that solve the “How do I control my VR experience?” end of smartphones. However, it’s going to take some kind of open controller standard to be built (which Samsung might make Rink, but likely not) for everyone to be able to take advantage of mobile VR to the fullest.
Fortunately, that “open standard” isn’t a problem for the actual viewing of a Virtual Reality experience. From Google Cardboard setups, to DodoCase VR, to even a new version of the classic View-Master, there are plenty of ways to experience VR on almost any Android smartphone. But none of those are totally “pocketable”. They’re not huge headsets like out of some 90’s movie, but they’re certainly not something you can slip in your backpocket.
Now there’s a VR viewer that is pocketable: Speck’s “Pocket VR”.
Not a bad looking viewer. It is “just” Google Cardboard in a pocketable form factor, but it’s also a good solid plastic (except for the lenses) that will likely lastly you longer and can take a little more of a beating getting carried around than a standard Google Cardboard viewer made out of…well…cardboard. Of course, the Pocket VR being so portable and being plastic comes with a much more premium price: $69.95 USD. That’s a bit steep, I’ll admit. But if Speck’s Pocket VR (coming out in Spring 2016) is a form factor that interests you, then maybe you’ll find the price worth it.
Why would you want a pocketable VR viewer? That’s a matter of personal taste. Myself, I’d want it not because I want to actually put it in my pocket, but because my Google Cardboard kit is the one thing I can’t fit into my murse. Yes, I do carry a murse. It’s not a laptop case, it’s not a briefcase. It’s small, and fits my bluetooth keyboard, my portable speaker, my external battery, and just about everything else that I could want to connect to my ASUS Zenfone 2 to get some work done or have a good time. If I had the Pocket VR from Speck, I could easily fit it into my murse (alright, if you want to call it a “manbag” or “male handbag”, go for it). I could imagine some other reasons for why people would be interested in this, as having VR (and Google Cardboard-like products are going to be a big part of Augmented Reality, as well, in the future) ready to go at any time, perhaps for a meeting (let your mind run wild with what kind of “meeting”), or whatever is necessary in Virtual Reality.
While the Pocket VR and its ilk may not be big sellers right now, I think it is a fact that VR is going to change the way we experience the world, and for the most part that change will not be done sitting at your PC, in my opinion. So having that experience in our pockets is going to become all the more important in the very near future. At least we now know it’s possible to have it.