Photo by Marc van der Chijs, Attribution CC BY ND 2.0
Virtual reality sets are all the rage at the moment; they’re changing the way we interact with the world. From headsets that enhance the gaming experience to heights never before possible, to personalised advertisements that are shifting the way we shop, it seems that every industry is tapping into the potentials of virtual reality, including that of mobile communications. These accessories and applications can turn your phone from a plain old mobile into a piece of virtual reality technology.
Virtual Reality Gaming
Photo by May, Attribution CC BY 2.0
Whilst some virtual reality ventures have changed the world, there are some that are really just a bit of fun. There’s nothing wrong with that at all! Some use technology for the advancement of humanity and some use it to collect little pretend creatures whilst they’re waiting in line at the bank. Each are valid in their own way, but for this bit, we’re going to focus on the fun stuff…
Virtual reality gaming took a little while to catch on in the mobile market, but now that it has, it’s clear that it’s here to stay. Games like Pokemon Go took the world by storm just three years ago, when they released a brand new game that had adults clamouring to ‘catch ’em all’. The game is totally free to download, with the option to buy items for real money to advance more quickly. When a response to a game release is so frenzied, it’s often the case that the game pales into insignificance quite quickly, but this one seems to have withstood the test of time.
Virtual Reality Accessories
The design of the Google Cardboard accessory was a stroke of marketing genius. With its simple design and handmade looks, people were intrigued to know how it could provide any kind of enhancement to the gaming experience. It almost became a joke that Google had the cheek to sell cardboard boxes for $15, but what it proved is that virtual reality gaming doesn’t need to be fancy and it is achievable at a price point that everyone can afford. Simply fold up the headset, pop your phone into the slot and start your game.
For the crafty amongst us, it’s even possible to build your own viewer, with Google helpfully offering some simple instructions. All of the pieces for their viewers can be brought from a local hardware store, you only need cardboard, lenses, magnets, a hook and a loop fastener. It really is a couple of dollars worth of equipment and you could have your own viewer. The nice thing about making it yourself is that you can be as creative as you like with it’s design. Some people really go all out and include lights, wires, amazing graphics and all kinds of other things, whilst others prefer to do things the Google way – sticking to good old cardboard.
Virtual Reality Applications
Taking a slightly more educational but no less fun approach, some makers have created apps that help with everyday problems. They allow you to use your phone to let the real world interact with all the knowledge of the internet. It could be something as simple as a label telling a story; the team at 19 Crimes have used this idea in such a simple but brilliant way. By hovering your phone over the QR code on the bottle, a criminal from the bottle of wine’s origin country comes to life before your very eyes and tells the story of his historic crime. It’s a quirky gimmick, but it’s slick and educational, so it’s got to be a winner!
Another application that has successfully integrated this technology is iNaturalist, which allows the user to take a photo of a plant, and immediately identify what it is. Little things like this make a difference to our lives in small but important ways. Virtual reality is here to stay, so you might as well get your mobile on board!