Photographers have been saying it for a long time: The best camera is the one that’s with you. Virtual reality startups are finding that to be true too; we have powerful computers sitting in our pockets in the form of our phones. Why not use them?
Altergaze is the newest virtual reality headset to hit Kickstarter, and it relies on your phone to be its screen and computer. Apple iOS(s aapl) or Android(s goog) devices can be slipped into a slot in front of two lenses, which strap to the wearer’s head.
It’s not very complicated how it works: The phone’s screen is split into two and each eye receives one of the images through the lenses. A video posted on the Kickstarter campaign shows that it does look 3D, but it’s difficult to compare it to other virtual reality options.
The goggles costs $80-330 depending on if you want them pre-assembled or customized. But you can also opt to spend $50 to have Altergaze send you just the screws and lenses and 3D print the rest of the headset yourself. Altergaze will have an online store where people can buy customized 3D printed versions of the frames.
One of the benefits of a Kickstarter campaign is that you can keep sales low enough so it actually makes sense to 3D print your product. If you have several months to deliver orders, it’s possible to 3D print several hundred highly-customized orders, for example. Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible once a product moves beyond Kickstarter into mass production.
But you can get around that by allowing people to 3D print their own. It will be interesting to see if projects like Altergaze continue to offer 3D designs for download once they progress past their crowdfunding campaign.