Get Involved With Mixed Reality For Only $30

Google Cardboard is the cheapest way to get involved with Virtual reality. For as low as $5, you can get yourself a cardboard headset, throw your phone in the viewer and immerse yourself in the world of 360º videos and mobile VR games
Now, It’s Mixed Reality’s turn. I’ve discussed Mixed Reality in some of my posts before, but for those of you that haven’t heard the term before, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

Mixed reality is the method of displaying Augmented Reality images or video in a user’s field of view — Usually through a headset display which uses various sensors to interact with the surrounding environment. The Microsoft HoloLens is one example of this type of technology.

The Microsoft Hololens

Unfortunately, the cost of the HoloLens is a huge barrier to entry for most people. At $3000US and over $7,200 in Australian Dollary-Doos, it’s practically impossible to justify buying a HoloLens.
Luckily, ZapBox is here to ease the pain. ZapBox is a new, affordable way to get involved with the world of mixed reality using only your phone and a headset similar to the ones used with Google Cardboard. It costs $30US. That’s right. 1% of the cost of a HoloLens as long as you already own a compatible phone. That means you must have an iPhone newer than the iPhone 6 (excluding the iPhone SE) or you need to have a decent Android phone. A good rule of thumb is, if the phone runs Google Cardboard without any issues, you should be fine.
But how does it work? Other mixed reality headsets use transparent displays. It’s incredibly difficult/impossible to make your phone transparent, so what sorcery is this? Well, with ZapBox, you clip a wide angle lens onto your smartphone’s camera, you put your phone in the ZapBox viewer and then you place the tracking pointcodes around your room. The ZapBox app uses the phone’s camera to track the room and to show your surroundings via your phone’s display. It’s kinda like watching a live virtual reality video feed of your own room.

The ZapBox Kit

Included in this package, are also handheld cardboard controllers that can be tracked by ZapBox and can be used to interact with the ZapBox mixed reality world. Using these controllers, you can paint, play games and control all sorts of apps that get released through ZapBox. You can even use the ZapBox viewer as a regular virtual reality headset with Google Cardboard apps and other existing mobile VR games and videos.
Of course, the tracking capabilities of ZapBox are limited and you shouldn’t expect the quality of what ZapBox offers to rival the quality of the HoloLens or other high-end virtual reality headsets. Instead, it should be seen as an exciting, affordable introduction to mixed reality. The experiences offered by ZapBox will not be fully fleshed-out, graphically intensive games or complex tools. They will be very basic, with the aim of exploring and sharing new ways to use the technology.
Currently, ZapBox is available for pre-order through Kickstarter and has raised over $55,000. That’s almost enough to buy a HoloLens in Australia! Seriously Microsoft, what are you doing to me? In fact, if you already own a HoloLens, just sell it for 3 grand, buy yourself 100 ZapBoxes and then play mixed reality games with 99 of your closest friends.
Click here if you want to get involved with the ZapBox Kickstarter campaign.

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