Bridge brings HoloLens-like mixed reality to the humble iPhone

Bridge is a new virtual reality headset by startup Occiput with some tricks which puts it a few steps above the common Daydream or Cardboard headset.

By adding the “Structure Sensor”, the Kinect-like device on top of the headset, and by adding a 120 degree wide-angle lens to the iPhone camera, the device is able to do “inside-out” sensing, meaning it can sense the environment without needing outside sensors and can re-project that image and data with added virtual items to give a very convincing “mixed” reality experience for a relatively low price (between $400 and $500) if you ignore the cost of the iPhone 6, 6s or 7 of course.

The device is however far from as sophisticated a solution as the Microsoft HoloLens. For one due to accessing the outside world via the iPhone camera, the frame rate for “reality” is only 30 fps, which could lead to lag and associated nausea. The screen is also the display surface of the iPhone, meaning the resolution of the image each eye sees is only VGA or 640×480.

Still as a cheap competitor to the HoloLens the Bridge has potential, allowing a business for example to mail the low-c0st headset to a client (who likely has an iPhone already) and allowing them to easily visualize virtual items such as furniture in their actual home. The headset also has the advantage of being easily able to switch from mixed reality to full virtual reality.

The headset will go on sale next week for $499 in limited quantities, and will have wider release in March 2017 at $399.

A bit like Google Cardboard, I suspect a cheap mixed reality headset, which offers a passable but far from ideal experience, will allow businesses to have a taste for what a specialized device such as the HoloLens has to offer, and ultimately expand the whole market.

See the video demo of the device below.

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