It’s a universal truism that babies need their moms to survive, and VR headsets need wire connections to computers to function. But as babies grow up, mothers become less of a requirement and more of a nuisance. The same is true of VR Ware such as headsets and wires – as VR Ware matures, the need for wires will become more a nuisance and less a requirement.
Google has already announced its newest VR headset sans wires. The Daydream model has been touted as a new revolution in VR ware and the market has taken notice, with huge numbers of web searches, and a clear desire to see more from the tech giant. The limiting factor, though, is the hefty price tag. Cracking $500, the headset falls squarely in the price range of other headset offerings from Oculus and HTC. This has concerned some of the market developers because the cost/benefit ratio is tough. Basically, users would have to forego some of the high end features of a wired headset, and yet pay the same price for the mobile functionality of the Google Set.
Recently, though, Occipital, a spatial computing company working on the front edge of VR and 3D tech, announced a tracking platform that, rather than using costly tech to track user movements and spaces, will use simple and low cost integrated cameras and inertial measurement units (IMUs). Both components ring in under $10, and the whole system will be under $350. The price point is way below the Google VR system. Occipital already offers a $400 iPhone headset kit called Bridge which utilizes the depth sensor they developed, but this system is unique in that it would allow complete freedom for the wearer without other 3rd party devices. With other tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook also indicating movement toward disconnected headsets, the company is clearly moving in the right direction.
The company also offered to make their platform free for hardware developers who have under 10K devices (called the six degrees of freedom platform), while scaling up prices for larger enterprise clients. This indicates that the platform is intended, not so much for internal hardware development as it is for external usage and further development. The platform is being launched with support for Windows and Android, and users can sign up for dev kits now.
Everyone in VR, including Occipital, knows that multi-camera sensor systems provide far greater levels of quality, but the transition from excellent VR to marketable and mass consumed hardware will be difficult. The price points on the individual hardware systems have been providing a limiting factor on making them widely available. It’s the tech equivalent of offering a lower end Porsche, designed for the middle class.
However, with the new developments from Occipital, the future for VR ware will likely begin to be consumer-friendly. As the technology develops, other companies will no doubt grow this system and provide improvements to make quality increase rapidly. The cord has been cut, and the baby is growing.