Raise your hand if you already have an Oculus Rift. Not many of you, huh? Raise your hand if you already have an iPad Mini or have ordered an iPhone 6 Plus with a Retina Display. That's a lot. The creators of the AirVR project on Kickstarter did the math and decided the quickest way to get virtual-reality-headset technology to the masses would be through adapting existing iOS devices.
AirVR is a head-mounted display that works for the iPad Mini or iPhone 6 Plus. The prototype looks like a weird set of goggles with straps that go over your head. The iPad or iPhone slips into a mount on the front and you look through two lenses at the screen. It works in conjunction with apps that have been optimized to display in two parts so that each eye gets a separate image feed.
An extra strip of screen real estate is turned into a touch interface for controlling your AirVR experience. Functions include calibration settings that make it possible to quickly adapt the headset for different users. AirVR's creators plan to bundle the gadget with photo, movie and panoramic-image apps.
An AirVR headset costs about $45, which may be the product's strongest selling point, though it's not as cheap as. If it gets made, it could be a relatively inexpensive introduction to VR for the iOS crowd.
The future success of AirVR depends not only on raising funds through Kickstarter, but also on iOS developers embracing the platform and updating apps and games to work with it. That's a tall order, but not completely impossible. With 28 days left to go on the project, AirVR has attracted about $5,500 toward an approximately $18,250 goal (converting from Canadian dollars).
On one hand, it would be pretty sweet to play a game like Dark Meadow using your iPad as a headset with a separate game controller for navigating the action. On the other hand, strapping a whole iPad (even if it is just the mini version) onto your face looks kind of weird and it seems to hang down a bit in front of your mouth. If you're OK with the oddity of the situation, it could be a fun new way to interface with your iPad. Otherwise, you might want to wait for the Oculus Rift or Google's Cardboard to go mainstream.