Smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMD) have transformed into a crowded market in 2014. While the year started off with the reveal of the likes of the AlterGaze 3D printed HMD there are now a number of devices that use smartphones for VR experiences either available or soon to be released. It’s becoming hard to tell some of these devices apart, although Merge VR hopes to stand out with its Merge Goggles to iOS and Android operating systems (OS).
In terms of the HMD itself, the Merge Goggles are similar to what’s been seen before. Users can slot a smartphone into the front of the device, with lenses propped up against the screen. Compatible apps then use a side-by-side 3D display method to show one image per eye and create a 3D effect. The smartphone’s own technology is used as a solution for head-tracking. Of note is the foam that the Merge Goggles are made out of as opposed to plastic. The company claims that this makes the HMD ‘soft and durable’.
Where the Merge Goggles really stand out however is with its own dedicated motion controller, the Grip. The Grip is a remote-like controller consisting five buttons on the top and two trigger buttons on the back. Crucially the device registers movement on nine axis and syncs up with phones to provide motion control within mobile VR experiences. That’s something yet to be seen even on the likes of Samsung’s Gear VR HMD, which uses a standard gamepad for most of its titles. Up to two Grips can run on one device.
There’s also Merge Start, a new software portal app for discovering VR experienes. The app will list both videogames and video content such as 3D movies as well as listing compatibility with the Grip and more.
The Merge Goggles are available for pre-order now with a Grip control included. The price is set at $99 USD. It’s not yet clear when the device might ship, nor how customers can acquire a second Grip controller. VRFocus will continue to follow each and every new VR HMD, reporting back with the latest updates on them.