We have seen a fair share of VR and AR implementations on a slew of phones and also considerable improvements when it comes to dedicated headsets like the Oculus Rift. Google set the tone for augmented reality with its Project Tango, an augmented reality feature that made it to Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. Now we have Bridge, a new headset that mishmashes virtual objects with the real world and brings about a unique experience for iPhone users.
The Bridge looks like most of the other VR headsets out there and all you need to do is attach an iPhone 6, 6s or the latest 7. The contraption then needs to be strapped to your head and you can control your motion with the Bluetooth remote. In virtual reality, the users are usually detached from his actual environment and this can cause a minor disconnect between the actual elements in the room and the VR environment. For instance, if you are playing a VR game it is very natural for you to trip over a table or a chair but in Bridge, it creates an invisible digital overlay that includes the elements of the real world.
Occipital’s new mixed reality headset demos a virtual robot called Bridget, a dog that fetches the ball thrown by you while avoiding the obstacles. This is achieved by creating a dense map of the scene and by representing the virtual objects subtly while the users navigate through the virtual world. The Inside Out Positional Tracking leverages the 3.5 meters of sensing range along with a depth map that is refreshed at 30fps. In the meanwhile, the structure sensors attached to the Bridge make the 6-DoF inside-out positional tracking possible without the need for any markers or feeds from external cameras. The Bridge Engine is the software that makes this possible and in all likelihood, Occipital will open source the software.
Microsoft’s Hololens has been using the mixed reality but while the Hololens projects images onto a clear pane of glass, Occipital makes use of the iPhone’s camera and then creates a 3D stereo view of the room with the help of Structure Sensor. Furthermore, it’s interesting to see how Occipital is making use of a technique which is pretty much similar to Oculus’s Asynchronous Spacewarp. Since iPhone will allow the camera to read the camera feed at just 30fps this might have been the best way forward. So what Occipital does is that it puts its sensors to use in order to predict how you will move from one frame to another and then create a simulated frame.
In games and VR, the whole world is yours to decide. You can statically create the world and then decide what happens in that,” he says. “In mixed reality, you’re forced to work within the constraints of the real world. So your creatures, your characters, whatever they are, have to deal with this world. We don’t really know as a developer community all the things we need to deal with-Occipital CEO, Jeff Powers.
Just like the Gear VR one can move around their Virtual environment and also track what there are seeing on the headset. This is indeed a big deal since before one had to set up the VR on a high-end PC and then place cameras and markers around the room. The Bridge Explorer edition costs $499 and includes Bridge Headset, Structure Sensor, Single-button Controller and some Bridge related merchandise. The Explorer edition would ship by December 16th, While the first generation Bridge will be priced at $399 and shipped by March next year.