With the technological advancements of recent years, virtual reality is turning from just a concept into something very real and accessible. Clearly Facebook-acquired Oculus rift won’t stay the only contender on the block and in our brave new world you might not have to buy very expensive equipment in order to enter a virtual reality. In fact, and this may sound a bit crazy, all you would need is a smartphone and a pair of Moggles.
Moggles is a freshly launched campaign on IndieGoGo by a group of Swedish developers. Basically, it’s a portable headset that will allow its users to access a virtual reality from anywhere they want by dropping their smartphone inside it.
As an example you could be on a train, bored out of your mind; you pull out your set of Moggles, place them on and the boredom of the train would be replaced by, say, a 3D rollercoaster ride. At least that’s the idea.
Moggles works by running specific virtual reality applications from a smartphone of up to 5.5”, which is placed into the visual slot of the headset. The visual input of the phone’s screen is made sharp by two adjustable aspherical lenses; to make the experience more immersing, the phone’s camera is used to detect the head’s rotations and to keep track of the users position. This positioning system is done in collaboration with Univrses is called SLAM and it’s an important way to reduce nausea, which seems to accompany some virtual reality visitors.
This data is collected by the Moggles app, which in turn sends the information to the browser so the content can use this to update the screen. The Moggles API and app support will be from Goo Technologies, Moggles’ software partnership company.
Interaction with the virtual environment is done with a manual controller, which is handily kept in the headset’s phone holder when the Moggles aren’t being used. The controller connects with the phone via Bluetooth connection and can be used for several purposes, depending on the application. It has built in motion detection and since it emulates a keyboard and mouse, app developers should be glad to hear that there is no need for an extra API to include the controller in their apps.
And this seems to be a core theme when it comes to Moggles, as well as other virtual reality headsets: applications that are compatible with the headsets. Although there are theoretically an innumerable amount of possible applications for virtual reality headsets, there currently are roughly 120 applications for these headsets available. However, with big companies like LG and Google doing plenty of virtual reality app contribution, that number is sure to progressively increase.
Smartphones and VR already have a close collaboration. In the most recent Occulus Rift Dev Kit 2, it was determined that the display of choice is from a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (the logic being it’s easier to grab off-the-shelf components than build a new one. For smartphone drop-in VR, Samsung has also talked up their Samsung Gear VR, while Google has Project Cardboard, a cardboard-based solution.
Moggles is seeking a funding of $60,000, of which they currently have rounded up a little under $10,000.
There are plenty of earlybird offers still available, so go check out their page if you’re interested, but if you want to wait, the final price for the set will be $169. If you want to meet Moggles in person, they can be found from Mobile World Congress Barcelona on the 2-5 March 2015 (@ Ericsson booth).