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This $130 Hack From Zeiss Lets You Play Vive and Oculus VR Games Without Their Headsets

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Virtual reality gaming is an amazing experience, but one that tends to be relatively insular due to the high price point of the headsets (as of today, the Oculus Rift retails for $399 and the HTC Vive is $599) combined with a VR ready PC (a good minimum spec is the  Intel Core i5 processor) which means that while a lot of people have heard about it, the amount that has actually played with it is far, far smaller.

Sure, you can bridge that gap with the Samsung Gear VR and at a pinch, Google’s cardboard gives you a hint of what the world is like, but these experiences are low level when it comes to the high-quality output that the big boys in VR gaming are producing.

Zeiss seeks to level the playing field with the release of the VR One Connect. If the name Zeiss sounds familiar that's because it is, as a leader in the optics field it's highly likely you own something made with Zeiss glass, such as Canon camera lenses. Now to be clear here, while Zeiss has a VR headset you can buy (the VR One Plus for around $46 on Amazon right now) the VR One Connect is NOT a headset. It’s — and I mean this in the best possible way — a dongle, and this dongle democratizes access to VR experiences.

Their engineers have created the secret sauce that connects Steam VR on your PC to your phone. It works with iPhones in iOS 10 and up and Android 7.0 models and above. To use, you slot your phone into the mobile tray on a headset — you could use it with anything, from the $10 Google Cardboard or with Zeiss’s own VR One Plus headset.



The steps are simple: Buy a VR game on Steam VR, open the app on your phone and boom, the content is being delivered to you right in front of your peepers. The Zeiss VR One Connect comes bundled with two Bluetooth controllers that let you navigate around the game (a touchpad design that’s familiar to any Oculus/Vive user) and it's really easy to pick up, and you can also use it with a keyboard or gamepad if the game calls for that. The Bluetooth controllers run on 4x AAA batteries, weigh in at 45g, and include an accelerometer and Gyroscope that works in tandem with the sensors on your own phone.

“What this does is open the window to over 2,000 games on SteamVR,” said Dave Hodgson, North America sales representative for ZEISS. “Today, over 20 million users are registered on Steam and only around 200,000 of them are doing VR.”


VR One Connect

Of course, as the modded phone is tethered to your computer, real roomscale is out of the question but in games like Space Pirate Trainer and Serious Sam: The Last Hope VR where some motion is needed, but not too much, it’s perfect. They recommend you play the games seated (for safety purposes) but honestly, the cable is ten feet long and it feels way more natural to stand up to play, as you can turn to the side more freely and everything you see is calibrated to a level that makes more sense.

Space Pirate Trainer was a lot of fun to play — it’s an arcade style shooter where every level you pass creates more bad guys t shoot, and the quality felt similar to playing on a higher end model. It’s when you get into really graphics intensive games that the system falters a little — I played Doom VFR and the amount of movement involved and the latency lag left me feeling a little dizzy and sick; similar to that old-school VR nausea from the earlier generation of headsets. Depending on your smartphone, the frame rate is 60 Hz, with mobile resolution rising accordingly to the model of your mobile. There are other ways to do this, such as the RiftCat software, but this takes a bit more technical know how to get going, while this is a plug and play experience.

“We've enabled mobile VR users to be able to plug in their mobile headset into their computer and play these games, which are much richer and robust [VR experiences],” added Zeiss marketing manager Tony Wisniewski. “The phone is connected and becomes the screen, so the computer does the heavy lifting.”

So it won’t be ideal for every game and the quality of the image won't be as good as you’d get on the Oculus or Vive as well. And you do need already own a powerful enough PC. But for a quarter of the cost, if you’re interested in VR, it’s a no-brainer. Expect it to retail for $130 this May from major retailers, and they’ll also offer a $150 bundle that includes a Zeiss headset. And this might just be bundled with a Steam gift card as well... (to be confirmed).

Source: https://hack-from-zeiss-lets-you-play-vive-and-oculus-vr-games-without-their-headsets/

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