Anyone with a modern phone can run Google Cardboard, a platform of apps that can turn your phone into a virtual reality headset.
The only hardware required is a disposable headset typically made out of cardboard.
Dodocase SmartVR, which goes up for pre-order on Indiegogo on Monday, is a premium version of those headsets that’s been certified by Google to work with all Google Cardboard apps, including Google Street View, NYT VR, and other popular video apps.
But as opposed to the Cardboard headset you might get for free in the mail, the $28 SmartVR is meant to last.
Google Cardboard has been so successful that companies are now rushing to make headsets that are more permanent and that are built for everyday use. Dodocase is best known for iPad cases that look like premium notebooks, and although the SmartVR isn’t built in San Francisco using book-binding techniques, it’s a much more premium experience than a disposable headset.
SmartVR is constructed out of plastic and metal, and features a secure phone slot that holds your iPhone or Android phone in place with two plastic arms, as opposed to the velcro and rubber-band setup many Google Cardboard headsets use. The entire headset folds up to a size not much bigger than a candy bar, another advantage over other headsets that can be bulky.
If you’ve ever used Google Cardboard before, SmartVR won’t be a radically new experience. It’s essentially the same product that was launched to everyone’s surprise at Google’s developer conference in 2014: A cheap, easy way for anyone with a smartphone to experience a low-end immersive video experience.
Dodocase was one of the first companies to produce Google Cardboard-compatible headsets, and it also sells disposable Cardboard headsets for promotional uses.
Other companies have started to make permanent versions of Google Cardboard. Recently, Apple Stores started carrying the View-Master VR, a Mattel product that is essentially a plastic version of Cardboard. Google also carries the Goggle Tech C1-Glass, another minimalist plastic version of a Cardboard headset.
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