Plenty of smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMD) have been announced this month. Among them is the Jobe VR HMD which, as with the others, uses a handset’s display and sensors to create low cost VR experiences without the need for an Oculus Rift HMD or expensive PC hardware. The concept is sound but, as VRFocus noted in last week’s VR vs., competition is stuff. What can Jobe VR do to stand out?
VRFocus put that question and more to founder Rick Raynor. In the interview below, Raynor discusses the competition, including Samsung’s Gear VR. He also talks about Jobe VR’s unique features, plans for the future and potential exclusive software. VRFocus will continue to follow Jobe VR in the future, reporting back with any further updates.
VRFocus: What makes Jobe stand out from the wide range of other smartphone-based VR HMDs?
Rick Naylor: Jobe stands out for several reasons…
- The name JOBE is associated with the main character from the cult movie The Lawn Mower Man, who also starred Pierce Brosnan. The film pretty much introduced the world to virtual reality back in the 90’s and hopefully with a few diehard fans will have their support and be able to use this to our advantage.
- Jobe will be more affordable than Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus yet still offer the same fully immersive VR experience. Simply by inserting your personal smartphone into the JOBE HMD will allow you to experience VR exactly the same as the others.
- Jobe is not limited to just one type of smartphone size.
- Like the IPhone JOBE will be all about a quality not like the others currently on the market such as Colorcode and Dive which are clunky, uncomfortable and use cheap materials.
- Jobe stands out because you don’t have to be tethered to an external device therefore providing the freedom to jump into VR or AR wherever you are. Whereas Oculus and Sony you have to remain tethered to a PC or in proximity of the game unit .
- The Apple Itunes and Google Play Store’s already are established market platforms to allow developers to deliver their VR and AR applications where users can simply download these apps via a smartphone through a WIFI,3G and 4G network. Oculus Rift is creating its own developer platform and won’t be as accessible for some time. This gives Jobe the edge purely because it takes advantage of the technology built into a smartphone that has been R&D and tested to ensure consumers get delivered a quality product. The others with the electronics built in are going to take years to iron out the bugs.
- The majority of people in the civilized world have a smartphone so makes sense to develop an affordable HMD where they can use the very own smartphone to experience VR.
VRFocus: How do you see the device stacking up to the likes of Samsung’s Gear VR?
Rick Naylor: Samsung Gear VR will no doubt be a high quality product though will also come at a high price tag of just under $300 USD. Plus your limited to just the Samsung S4 smartphone, big mistake!!! Jobe will retail at $89 USD, but will offer exactly the same experience and be multi smartphone compatible.
VRFocus: Are there any size limits to what smartphones Jobe can support?
Rich Naylor: Jobe will accommodate 4-5 to 5-5 inch smartphone sizes, therefore the majority of smartphones on the market will fit into JOBE.
VRFocus: You have a Kickstarter campaign approaching. What will the funds go towards?
Rick Naylor: The funds will directly go to in improving the final design, manufacturing, assembly, packaging and distribution. Pledges will be incentive driven therefore $89 pledge you will receive a device, $125 pledge will receive 1 x Jobe device plus limited edition t-shirt, $194 will receive 2 x JOBE devices and a t-shirt
VRFocus: You say you hope to a be market leader. Do you have any other products in the works?
Rick Naylor: I would love to be a market leader in the area of virtual reality. I have a stack of ideas that hopefully in the future will be able to drive forward on the back of JOBE or through crowd funding.
I can only dream at this stage what Steve Jobs was to the PC and Smartphone industry that I could be to VR industry and see my ideas come to reality but hey maybe that’s the product idea; living your dream cause ultimately that’s what VR will be all about, living another life you want to experience. Just as we live our life in the real world VR will be no different it will just be an extension of the way we do business, go shopping, lured by advertising , search subject matters of interest, plays games, watch entertainment, communicate, build social networks and dream.
VRFocus: Will Jobe feature any kind of exclusive software?
Rick Naylor: Not yet as unfortunately it’s just me at this stage and some freelances and am just targeting my focus on delivering the Jobe HMD, but there are software ideas and once I start to see revenue or investment then I will seek help nurturing these ideas and make them a reality. Hopefully soon.
VRFocus: Are you planning to create a solution to help find users find VR software on phones?
Rick Naylor: Yes will be aiming to put information on our website soon that will help users find what software is available to experience VR through JOBE, as there are plenty of VR apps already available through the smartphone market stores.
VRFocus: Jobe won’t launch until 2015. Are you not worried consumers will have already bought a smartphone-based HMD by then?
Rick Naylor: Yes there are going to be a few HMD’s on the market by 2015, but that’s what the industry needs as it will only increase consumers interest, demand and innovation in the VR space. The industry is going to be so huge that we haven’t even seen the new players emerge out from the garages yet. Nokia and Blackberry all had market dominance at one point in time and still couldn’t envision all the technology leaps that users thirsted for. It’s time for some new players like JOBE.