The concept of virtual reality goes all the way back to the 1930s. Technological advances and the ubiquity of processors have rekindled the possibilities of and interest in VR over the past three decades or so, moving it from the realm of speculative science fiction to reality.
Today, multiple companies have created all manner of VR headsets, ranging from Google Cardboard to top-of-the-line equipment utilizing state-of-the-art computing. A cursory search for “VR” in the app store of your choice will return countless pieces of software designed to take advantage of what many are predicting and even more are hoping will be the next big thing in technological advancement.
One company betting big on the evolution of mobile VR is Homido, which has released the first product in what will be a family of mobile VR products with the V2 headset. If you’re familiar with VR headsets, then the V2 may not elicit a “Wow!” at first glance. The V2 looks like many similar items already on the market. Closer inspection reveals an impressive array of features, particularly at its price point.
The V2 is designed to work with smart phones sized all the way up to the iPhone 6s+ (which is the phone I have and used when I put the V2 to the test). The adaptive, spring-loaded clips made snapping my phone into place a breeze. Once I had my phone out of the everyday case I keep it in, that is. Like many mobile accessories on the market, the V2 is not built to accommodate the Otterbox Defender on my oversized iPhone. It took me longer to free my phone from its protective case than it did to download the apps I wanted to test and snap the phone into the headset.
In addition to the focus dial at the top of the headset and the slider at the bottom that allows users to adjust the distance between lenses (making it easy for me to pass the headset to one of the kids to try, making only a slight adjustment), the V2 has a button at the top right corner of the headset that acts in some ways as a click on your touchscreen device. The foam around the eye pieces and the head strap were comfortable and easily adaptable for both adult and child alike, and the transition between the two was quick. Without a phone in the clip, the headset weighs 15 ounces, bringing the total weight of the headset plus the largest iPhone on the market to right at 1.5 pounds, yet I was able to comfortably wear the device for up to two hours at a time during testing without neck or facial fatigue.
While the V2 is an intriguing option on its own, especially since it is selling exclusively in the United States in select Best Buy stores and at BestBuy.com for $79.99, what makes the V2 a sound investment is the slate of products in the V2 suite that are scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. Included are a pair of wireless controllers fashioned to remind one of an Xbox controller–one specific to Android, the other for iOS–and even more interestingly, a 360 degree camera that will allow users to create their own content. Having played around with the capabilities Homido already offers in their Homido Player app (which lets users play the standard video they’ve shot in VR… I can’t tell you how much my daughter enjoyed being in the audience in VR when we watched a portion of a theater production she was in this summer through the V2), I am looking forward to what the camera adds to the V2 line.
The V2 family of products is a great way to introduce your family to mobile virtual reality. The headset is a real treat for families looking to quickly, easily, and comfortably share the VR experience between the biggest and the smallest users. The only thing that is keeping me from recommending this device whole-heartedly is not an issue with the device itself.
What’s missing is that breakthrough app that takes VR from being a novelty embraced by tech geeks and early adopters and gives it mass appeal. Remember 3D TVs? While there are quality offerings out there, particularly from major content providers like Discovery, I found the games to be lacking. The technology needs an app to do for virtual reality what Pokemon Go did for augmented reality, otherwise it will be hard to get the technology to where it is embraced by the masses.
But… when that day comes, I’ll be ready for it with my V2 headset.
Disclaimer: a V2 headset was provided for review purposes. All opinions are my own.