Earlier this summer, Google launched Cardboard, a way for developers to create and test VR content for Android devices without having to buy a dedicated VR device. The solution was to create a setup that allowed you to attach your Nexus 5 to your face. Now, iPhone users will also be able to experience phone-in-your-face-VR. Or tablet-in-your-face VR, if that’s more your thing.
AirVR is a Kickstarter project that hopes to leverage the millions of iOS devices already out there in the widespread deployment of virtual reality. With its black foam and large straps, it’s not as as subtle a solution as a cardboard headset you assemble yourself but it does sit on your head hands-free as opposed to Cardboard, which needs to be held to your face as you use it. It’s also available for purchase by anyone, another win for AirVR.
It’s designed to work with the iPad Mini but there’s also a version for use with Apple’s new phablet, the upcoming iPhone 6+. It’s powered by the device’s 64-bit processor and battery so, really, all the magic is happening on your phone or tablet. This means you’ll be installing AirVR apps on your device. These include PhotoVR, MovieVR, and PanoVR. However, it also works with side-by-side (SBS) content from YouTube, iTunes, and apps from Apple’s App Store.
The launch price is listed as $49, and AirVR will ship to backers this December, with online ordering coming in 2015. The AirVR team is also calling for developers and is running its developer program through the App Store. The SDK is open source and implemented in Unity3D.
For Android users, AirVR promises more news next year. The company says it has Android prototype as well as an Microsoft Surface prototype that it plans to release ‘later in 2015.’ Because you definitely want to hang a 10-inch Surface hanging off your face. Definitely.