Sep 29, 2016 | By Nick

The iPhone has been largely overlooked when it comes to Virtual reality, because it just isn’t up to the task, but now Occipital has launched a $500 kit that provides room-scale motion-tracking to iOS and Android phones.

It’s on sale as a developer kit that includes a 120-degree wide-angle lens, a HMD with customer faceplate and the all-important Structure sensor. You can apply for yours here.

The company's Structure sensor was a Kickstarter smash hit and raised more than $1.29 million when it went live. Now it is used in Hollywood effects and clinical applications and it can turn you iPhone, iPad or just about anything else into a usable 3D scanner, but the team has found another application.

iPhone users have been restricted to the likes of Google Cardboard until now and it is getting left behind in the VR war. Essentially the iPhone still struggles with latency issues, but with the help of Occipital’s Structure sensor, you can use VR and its depth sensing.

The current systems rely on rotational tracking, so you can look around but you can’t really explore. With the help of Bridge Engine, the company’s 6-Degrees of Freedom positional tracking software comes with the company’s next generation depth sensor and Structure core. So you aren’t limited by wires or base stations and you can have an accurate picture of real objects in the room, either as an overlay or part of the VR experience. It will also you to move around in VR without blindly falling over your sofa. This collision detection overlay simply flashes up with the outline of the obstacle you’re about to hit and it’s a neat touch.

The sensor processing requires just a small portion of one chip core, too, so it won’t drain the battery and will leave your phone with plenty of processing power to augment the VR experience and turn it into something more useful when the developers get their hands on it. Games, educational experiences and more are just round the corner.

Apple needs something like this. Android Nougat is set to have a VR mode that will leave Apple even further behind. If VR becomes an integral application then this could really have an impact on Apple’s perceived technical superiority.

Even committed iPhone users have found themselves buying another phone to explore VR and that just isn’t viable in the long-term. No matter how good the iPhone may be, VR and AR could be the battleground that exposes the tech giant if we get a slew of games and applications that make full use of the Android’s abilities.

Apple introduced dual cameras for more advanced photos with a level of depth sensing, but it needs to raise its game with VR and Augmented Reality in a hurry. It did buy PrimeSense in 2013 for $360 million and this is the latest in a long line of acquisitions. PrimeSense even makes the sensors it needs, but it needs to perfect and incorporate that tech and it needs to do it now.

Until Apple finally bites the bullet, this is far superior to anything you can have on your iPhone and there’s a good chance it’s going to be a cut above even when Apple gets it act together. This is seriously cutting edge VR technology that comes at a competitive price and the fact that it can ship between phones could be a real bonus for some users with both iPhone and Android phones in their arsenal.

This might also be part of a wider plan by the Colorado-based Occipital to show up the main manufacturers and ensure that its Structure sensor finds its way into the next generation of Apple or Android phones. Apple can spend hundreds of millions developing its own kit, or it could just strike a deal and have a functional chip like this right now.

It’s a stellar step forward from a company that the 3D scanning community has come to know and love. Not content with turning your iPad into a full 3D scanner, now they’ve turned it into a VR powerhouse, too. We’re curious to see where the Structure sensor can take us next.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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Keith wrote at 9/30/2016 6:58:12 AM:

This is currently something you can say ooh, cool, look at this. But after those 5 minutes you might as well throw it away.

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