A new contender has entered the mixed reality ring. San Fransisco-based Occipital has just released an "Explorer Edition" of Bridge—an iPhone-based mixed and virtual reality headset that uses their popular Structure Sensor. At a fraction of the cost of a HoloLens developers kit, this could be a place many curious people use to find their NextReality.
Occipital first made its presence known in the augmented and mixed reality scene when it initially Kickstarted the Structure Sensor back in 2013. They well surpassed their $100,000 goal, raising $1.29 million. They have since been busy building the software to power that sensor called Bridge Engine, which led to their VR Dev Kits earlier this year and, finally, to the Bridge headset.
Structure is a sensor array very akin to the Microsoft Kinect, but designed for use with Apple's mobile product line. And much like the HoloLens, this array allows the Bridge to use "inside-out" tracking, making the device self-contained and completely untethered.
While closer in design to Samsung's Gear VR than the HoloLens overall, what sets this apart from a device like Gear VR is the Structure Sensor and its software. The sensor appears to be very powerful with its spatial mapping capabilities. And at a price of $499.99 for the Explorer Edition (developers kit), it makes an incredibly attractive alternative to the $3,000 to $5,000 for the HoloLens.
I could potentially see myself buying an iPhone and the Bridge for a mixed reality experience in the future. After all, $1,148 ($649 for the iPhone 7 and $499 for the Bridge) is still a pretty good price for an inside-out tracking MR rig.
If you're thinking about it, you can buy the Bridge Explorer Edition from Occipital, but you'd better hurry. There's currently less than 100 available for an iPhone 7, and just over 100 for an iPhone 6 or 6s (Plus sizes are not supported). The consumer version of Bridge will be available for $399 and won't be available until March 2017, but you can preorder right now.
What do you think about Bridge? Do you think it can give HoloLens a run for its money? Let us know in the comments below.
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