So, you’ve read all about the Oculus Rift (to the point of almost knowing how Palmer Luckey likes his T-bone steak), and both me and Inara Pey have told you about the CastAR, and I’ve also told you about Epson’s Moverio AR glasses… But there seems to be a new kid on the VR block. The name is Altergaze (@altergaze on Twitter) and here’s their Kickstarter campaign.
They’re customisable, 3D-printed VR goggles for smartphones (this is the interesting bit) that will be distributed through crowd manufacturing. To the best of my understanding, they are a frame that holds a pair of lenses and a special holder for a smartphone that will act as your display. And, of course, you strap it on to your head, Oculus-style.
The styling is… As you can see, there’s no styling at all. It reminds me a bit of those trial frames used by opticians, but whatever works…
The main aspects of the design are (as mentioned in the Kickstarter campaign):
- Very affordable price (especially if you own a 3D printer or if you know someone with access to one);
- Truly unlimited level of customisation – a bespoke product for users, a marketing tool for companies;
- Open-source design – encourages designers and 3D printing enthusiasts to experiment with the Altergaze and improve on its design;
- Easy to setup a world-wide distribution and manufacture by using 3D printing facilities around the globe (anyone owning a 3D printer can become an official distributor);
- Facilitate the use of VR for public events such as concerts, museums, theatres, historical sites, travel tours – event organizers would hand them at the entrance, the audience would download the appropriate app, then they would enjoy the show and return them at the end (think of how a silent disco party works)
The Altergaze has received considerable attention from the likes of Mashable, Gizmodo and TechDirt, as mentioned on the campaign’s website.
Now, while it does look interesting, without an application that will provide the VR content for viewing, I don’t know how meaningful it will be and what its hopes of being adopted by the intended market will be.