Figment VR is an iPhone case that turns right into a VR headset
Google’s low-finish Cardboard headset is by far the most cost effective and best approach to get began with digital actuality. Sadly, it is not precisely tremendous moveable and it isn’t very sturdy both — it is simply cardboard, in any case. In fact, there are many different telephone-suitable VR headsets on the market, however most of them are nonetheless fairly clunky. The Figment, however, is a unique tackle VR (and AR) altogether. Debuting on Kickstarter right now, it is an iPhone case that may be reworked right into a VR viewer with only a flick of a button, making it the one VR headset we all know of that may match behind your pocket.
In a method, we’re stunned this hasn’t been executed earlier than. On the entrance, the Figment seems like an strange iPhone case. On the rear, nevertheless, are a pair of lenses that look identical to those on Google’s Cardboard. Slide a few toggles, and the lenses will flip over, immediately positioning themselves in between you and the display. To place it again, merely flip them over once more and snap the lenses into place. It truly is that straightforward. In a quick demonstration with a Figment prototype, I discovered the flipping motion tremendously enjoyable and addictive, giving me the identical passable sensation that I felt when enjoying round with T-Cellular’s Sidekicks of yore.
And lest you assume the Figment is just a few random iPhone accent, Zi Wang — Figment’s creator — would have you ever assume in any other case. Wang can also be the founding father of Quantum Bakery and is the brains behind Glow, a pair of earbuds with laser mild cords that had a profitable Kickstarter marketing campaign earlier this yr. Wang, a former Googler, has been in talks with each Google and Apple for a lot of the yr to ensure the Figment matches inside Apple’s stringest aesthetic necessities whereas additionally being absolutely suitable with Cardboard apps and software program. “Once we’re designing a telephone case, it needs to be pocketable,” he says. “It has to supply minimal safety and may’t destroy the general aesthetic of the telephone.”
Throughout our interview, he delved deep into nerd territory by informing me that the bevel and chamfered edges across the case’s aluminum piece are all referencing the Apple “appear and feel.” The ultimate Figment hardware might be created from polycarbonate with a touch of silicone to maintain it malleable. It’s going to include about forty elements complete all ultrasonically welded collectively. The hinges will even incorporate about eight totally different O rings plus some dampening gel in order that when the lenses flip round, it will not bounce when it lands. For sure, Wang’s consideration to element to one thing so simple as a telephone case is spectacular.
“I do not need to design one thing that folks will really feel embarrassed by,” he says. “It ought to get out of your means. When it isn’t in use, it is invisible.”
You could be considering now that the Figment’s open design is an issue — in any case, most VR headsets are enclosed to make sure most immersion and to keep away from mild bleeding via. However Wang tells me that the Figment’s open design gives a couple of benefits. For one factor, since you are not utterly disconnected from actuality and have that tiny little bit of peripheral imaginative and prescient, you will get much less movement illness. Moreover, with an open idea, you will get direct entry to the display. “I feel one of the best enter system at the moment continues to be the contact display,” he says. “You will have a extra affordable cellular gaming expertise, with far much less latency.” This, he says, is way simpler and quicker than utilizing Cardboard’s present nubby button. Final however not least, the open design provides the Figment a pair levels of play, in order that the nostril bridge can simply match totally different faces.
However what’s maybe extra fascinating is that apart from the glasses, Wang can also be engaged on an app that is built-in with augmented actuality software program. He confirmed me a quick demonstration the place he was in a position to make use of the telephone’s digital camera together with some pc imaginative and prescient tips to change a Starbucks cup right into a basketball hoop, and a bottle of Coke right into a rocket. “It is a new type of hyperlinking,” he says. “However as an alternative of linking one digital piece of content material to a different, you are linking digital content material to a bodily factor.”
What I discovered notably thrilling was when he targeted the telephone’s digital camera on a lamp with a Philips Hue bulb, and the software program immediately knew what it was because of the sample on the lamp shade (he had already pre-programmed the sample to the app). He might then change the colour simply by tapping on a colour palette. Then whereas the software program was nonetheless open, he pointed the digital camera at one other lamp shade with a Belkin WeMo lamp, and it too was acknowledged immediately and he was capable of flip the lamp on and off from the app. Augmented actuality, he says, can probably make the Web of Issues much less fragmented, by unifying their interface in a single app.
Even so, VR is the main target of the hardware right here. “I am betting on VR,” says Wang, including that with all the new software program just like the New York Occasions app and each Fb and YouTube investing closely in 360 video, VR is hotter than ever. And with one thing like Figment, you will lastly have the ability to take it in all places with you. “This allows you to expertise VR in a way more informal method,” he says. “It does not should be an enormous clunky headset.” There is no setup; you possibly can simply hearth it up and say to your pal ‘Hey, verify this out.'”
Nonetheless the Figment isn’t actually low cost. It’s going to retail for $seventy nine, although you will get it an an early chook $forty nine worth in case you bounce on Kickstarter as quickly as potential. It is available in white and black plus a few totally different sizes in order that it may well accommodate the iPhone 6 and up. Wang is not ruling out a case for an Android telephone simply but, however determined to go for the iPhone for now. As for when you possibly can anticipate it should you chip in for a case, Wang says they need to begin delivery in early Spring 2016.