While still fairly nascent on mobile platforms, virtual reality is slowly making its headway as a viable trajectory fit for mobile experiences, especially with Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR claiming estate in the fore.
Apple, however, has largely skipped the mobile VR race because Tim Cook, the Cupertino company's chief executive, prefers augmented reality technology to VR. With this, Apple appears averse to steering its innovation toward VR, leaving iPhone owners bereft of VR experiences.
Luckily, there's Bridge.
The Bridge VR Headset For iPhone
The Bridge VR headset for iPhone, made by software startup Occipital, isn't simply a peripheral to put one's iPhone in. The equipment itself houses a so-called Structure Sensor and wide angle lens adapter for the iPhone's camera. The two relay each other information to determine the user's head movements and location relative to the surrounding environment.
Of course, despite the headset's excellent accuracy, there are still a few limitations at present. One of which is the iPhone's low-resolution screen when split into two, outputting a maximum of 640 x 480 per eye.
Furthermore, the Bridge headset can output content at 60 fps, but the iPhone caps the app at 30 fps. To combat this, Occipital uses sensors to predict where the user will look next, creating a synthetic visual rendering between gaps in place of lost frames. The result lends a user smoother motion but with noticeable "smudginess," according to The Verge.
The Structure Sensor
The structure sensor is perched on top of the headset, employing infrared scanning to determine accurate distances from the user to objects within proximity. This means that the structure sensor can detect a user's movements and location and integrate these into the virtual world, similar to the full-room VR experience offered by the HTC Vive.
The headset can even alert the users so as to prevent them from stumbling into real-word objects, which is a frequent scenario in VR gameplay. The headset even generates a wireframe model of the surrounding space, so a user can refrain from accidentally thudding against a wall or encountering similar mishaps.
Of course the Bridge headset sounds nothing short of amazing, but hardware won't survive without software. For the Bridge to propel the iPhone as a heavyweight mobile VR platform, developers need to start creating content to take advantage of the Bridge's capabilities. Otherwise, the headset will simply remain a trove of fancy buzzwords with nothing to show for it.
Pricing And Availability
Occipital is currently making the Explorer Edition bundle available to interested developers for a steep $499. The headset alongside a lone Bluetooth controller is also available as an option for $399. The Bridge is compatible with iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, running iOS 9 or up.