Ever since Oculus unveiled its virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, virtual reality experiences have received a great deal of hype. The technology is meant to immerse the headset wearer into some ultra-visual experience to make it feel as if they are actually there.
Google poked fun at the trend by creating Cardboard, literally a piece of cardboard that can turn your phone into a virtual reality headset when folded correctly. Samsung is also reportedly working on its own virtual reality headset.
And now brands are starting to dive into the fad as well.
Earlier this month, Subaru announced its new Motorsports app that creates a 360-degree racing experience. The app is available for free in Google Play and Apple’s App Store, but in a few months, the experience will go beyond just a cool video on your phone.
Thanks to a couple of different headsets that let you insert your phone in the back of the goggles, you will be able to view the 360-degree experience on a whole new level.
Besides Google Cardboard, which Subaru is currently evaluating for compatibility, there are two other headsets that work with most phones: The Durovis Dive, which is available for about $US77, and vrAse, which is not yet for sale.
I was able to try out the Motorsports app with the Durovis Dive, and though it may not be as advanced as Oculus Rift, it’s actually pretty cool.
First you open up the Subaru Motorsports app on your phone and center the view with your finger. Then you snap the phone to the back of the headset, and adjust the lenses to focus your view.
You hear an announcer count down, “Five, four, three, two, one,” and you’re off. The view makes it feel as though you’re in the driver’s seat looking ahead at the racecourse. You aren’t actually directing the vehicle but can move your head around to get a 360-degree view of the course.
Well maybe not a full 360, since when you look up you see the top of the car and when you look down you see the bottom of the car. But you still get a pretty wide view when you turn left and right.
And along with the audio, it does have a pretty authentic feel to it. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced a motorsports race, but I can imagine this is a fairly accurate rendering of the visuals and sounds. And just by blocking out all of your surroundings with the headset, you can’t help but feel immersed in the race.
It may not be particularly fashionable to don the required headsets, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend walking around with the goggles (don’t forget that they block out all of your surroundings), but it offers a fun and entertaining 5-minute peek into the world of motorsports. The experience is a bit gimmicky for Subaru, but it’s a cool stunt that will help it promote motorsports.
You can get a feel for what the experience is like from this video: