Zeiss VR One: Mobile Virtual Reality for iOS, Android, $99

Zeiss VR One: Mobile Virtual Reality for iOS, Android, $99

Zeiss VR One 310x

The Zeiss headgear currently works with the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5.

No bones about it: The Samsung Gear VR is an incredibly cool piece of hardware. But its biggest problem is in the name -- it's a Samsung product designed for one Samsung smartphone. That's a big hurdle to overcome, even if Oculus is behind the headset's secret sauce.

But the Gear VR is not the only mobile VR solution on the block, it seems, because Zeiss has just announced a VR headset of its own.

The Zeiss VR One is now available for pre-order for $99, which puts the kit at roughly half the Gear VR's rumored pricetag of $199.99 (not including the Galaxy Note 4). With an expected ship window of "before Christmas 2014," it's also (presumably) landing with buyers in the same time frame as the Gear VR.

Along with supporting multiple mobile devices (more on that in a moment), the VR One also has a "see-through" front shield, meaning your smartphone's rear camera will act as a window to the outside world -- great news for augmented reality buffs. There are openings to access your phone's audio and charging connectors when the VR One is in use, and eyeglasses can be worn under the unit.

If you pre-order a VR One, you can order the headgear with one of two smartphone trays, as it plays nice with the Apple iPhone 6 (not the 6 Plus), and the Samsung Galaxy S5. You pop your phone into the tray, slide the tray into the VR One, and you're ready to trip the lights fantastic with the Harmonix Music Visualizer.

While only two devices are currently supported, other smartphones will get trays in the coming months as well, so long as their screen size is at least 4.7 inches, while not exceeding 5.2 inches (sorry, no phablets allowed). If you're a power user with iOS AND Android devices, additional phone trays can be purchased for $9.99.

But now, the downside: software. The hardware in the VR One kit is ready to go, but there's no solidified software ecosystem. Samsung Gear VR locks you into one phone for one head unit, but buying such a product means you'll have software to use right out of the box. With the VR One, you will be utterly dependent on indie software devs to create VR-capable games and apps. That isn't a bad scenario, most of the time, but expect a slow software rollout, for sure. On the other hand, the VR One SDK uses Unity3D, so developing software should be a (relative) breeze.

Source: Zeiss

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I'm amazed at how many companies are willing to take the risk of putting out hardware while the market is still mostly untested.

-Dragmire-:
I'm amazed at how many companies are willing to take the risk of putting out hardware while the market is still mostly untested.

Being ahead of the curve risks being wasteful, being behind the curve risks niche irrelevance.

Pyrian:

-Dragmire-:
I'm amazed at how many companies are willing to take the risk of putting out hardware while the market is still mostly untested.

Being ahead of the curve risks being wasteful, being behind the curve risks niche irrelevance.

I agree but it seems like chasing what's already proven popular sounds more like the norm when it comes to large companies.

-Dragmire-:

Pyrian:

-Dragmire-:
I'm amazed at how many companies are willing to take the risk of putting out hardware while the market is still mostly untested.

Being ahead of the curve risks being wasteful, being behind the curve risks niche irrelevance.

I agree but it seems like chasing what's already proven popular sounds more like the norm when it comes to large companies.

Hyping up VR is pretty popular nowadays. Maybe it's a little of both.

eww why would you want such a thing jesus

what kind of games could run at the required resolution and framerate to not cause nausea?

-Dragmire-:

I agree but it seems like chasing what's already proven popular sounds more like the norm when it comes to large companies.

VR has already proven to be quite popular decades ago, it's just yet to be proven functional.

That the public wants VR devices, is about as self-evident that the public wants hoverboards, brain-computer interfaces, sexbots, and self-driving cars. The problem is with actually making them good enough to match the ideal of that popular fantasy. If it looks like we are getting close to it, then no one will want to risk missing the first boom.

There is SOME risk in the market, but it's mostly based on the possibility that Oculus jumped the gun and VR technology isn't ready after all, so there is no market for 2014's attempt at VR, not that the public is just generally uninterested in the idea of being present in virtual spaces, like it's just a new video game gimmick.

Remember when new products had to COME OUT before competitors started appearing with their own versions?

It like there's this huge market for VR devices... that's coming some day.

I recall an article a while back where the Oculus devs stated they were worried about other companies releasing VR headsets of inferior quality before the tech to make them able to meet the popular expectation of such devices was ready. It would potentially have a large detrimental affect on the future VR market. I get the feeling this is exactly the kind of thing they were referring to. Sorry, but no way in hell, at this time, is any company making a VR headset that comes anywhere near delivering the kind of experience that consumers are wanting from VR tech for $99. Comparing this to an Oculus headset would be like marketing a Leap Frog children's computer as an actual PC without giving the public any indication not to expect actual PC functionality from the thing. While neither Apple nor this article may have directly made that comparison, anyone that cares about the future of VR tech certainly is going to. I hope these cheap imitators don't put too much of a sour taste in the mouth of consumers looking forward to VR tech.

Well, it's not like Oculus Rift could actually STOP people from releasing to market while there's still any hype left. If they had their way, by the time the tech's up to their standards, nobody would really care anymore, the ring of investors that are supporting the ring of developers that is supporting the Rift will have already left this as a lost cause, and there's already more than one generation of dev kits for a product that doesn't even have a hardset commercial release date and the likelihood that a competitor will leapfrog them and steal all of the market share increases every month (hell, even Sony's got a horse in the game now, and all of these "front line innovators" that supposedly had a head start on things are gonna have to claw for air in the sea of releases by the time they hit the market). Between this and Star Citizen, we'd be better off investing in cryostasis for humans so that people will actually live to see the things that they put their money in.

ah so we once again see people trying to turn phones into VR. my only fear here is that people will actually try it, realize how much phones are incapable of doing it, but dont realize that actual VR is better and think all VR is crap.

The potential with this thing is the AR in addition to VR.

But the downside is GO TO HELL ZEISS I WANT MY PHABLET SUPPORTED FFS!!!

... Dunno. Seeing the downsides of a rift DK1, and reports of what the improvements have done for the later models, I'm doubtful this will end well.

VR is difficult. And the consequences of getting it wrong are serious. It's not like gaming where the consequences of bad hardware are terrible looking games (or maybe barely playable ones, depending on what's wrong with the hardware.)

No. The consequences of getting VR wrong are severe nausea, AND whatever problems plague normal games.

6dof head-tracking and low-latency video are basically MINIMUM requirements for usable VR, let alone good.

And I have my doubts a system built around using whatever phone someone has lying around will do all that well here. Especially considering high framerate/low latency displays have, to date not been a priority on phones.
(No, 60 fps is not a high framerate. Not for VR use, at least.)

This could work... But I fear what's more likely is it puts a whole heap of people off VR...

-Dragmire-:

Pyrian:

-Dragmire-:
I'm amazed at how many companies are willing to take the risk of putting out hardware while the market is still mostly untested.

Being ahead of the curve risks being wasteful, being behind the curve risks niche irrelevance.

I agree but it seems like chasing what's already proven popular sounds more like the norm when it comes to large companies.

that's why it's mostly medium companies shooting for it. Big name companies in the entertainment industry whose names are solidified and stable like Disney, Microsoft, Sony and even Facebook aren't really shipping any serious attempts into the VR departments for at least 2-4 years because they figure that they can just wait that long and still be relevant enough for everyone to care. Companies that are just approaching the goliath levels of reputation like samsung though are shipping their shit now in hopes that they'll be able to solidify they're position in the world as one of the big hitters.

Besides that, the publics response to VR has been pretty well observed and judged in the last three years since the occulus rift got pitched, the big name companies have already really sat back and watched without putting a toe in the water a lot longer than they did for things like motion controls and the Wii.

 

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