Within the next month, a pair of the most highly hyped VR headsets are getting ready to launch. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are both expensive, powerful pieces of hardware that will likely see adoption among gamers and evangelists of the platform but are not necessarily systems that will be overtly accessible to the average consumer.
When it comes to getting VR content in front of the eyes of your parents or less tech-obsessed buddies, the Google Cardboard platform has served as a great introduction to virtual reality. Dodocase, which is perhaps best known for their fancy iOS device cases, has in many ways been the silent powerhouse behind the Cardboard platform, and they are now preparing their most serious effort in the space with the launch of an Indiegogo campaign for SmartVR, a compact, yet durable, 90-gram Cardboard viewer.
The “Works with Cardboard” device easily lets you unfold the cigarette case-sized viewer and pop in any smartphone to view 360 content anywhere you are. The device is currently going for $28 on its Indiegogo campaign.
When Google announced the initiative in 2014 people weren’t sure whether this was the company’s punchline to the early conversations surrounding VR or was indeed something real. Well, it only took a few hours following the announcement at I/O for Dodocase to build a device compatible with Google’s specifications. Fast forward a couple of years and over 5 million Cardboard viewers have shipped, with Dodocase accounting for over 500,000 of those.
This is Dodocase’s first foray into non-cardboard Cardboard viewers and they chose a far more “executive” design style for this device. SmartVR’s premium feel is really all about the durability, which is incredibly important as Cardboard looks to reach its next milestones.
It’s not about the buyer of SmartVR having a great experience as much as it’s who they show it to. Cardboard is a platform that’s more about sharing than anything. I would imagine there are very few “hardcore” users of the platform. Those who truly see Cardboard’s benefits also see its limitations and likely upgrade to experiences on more premium headsets if they fall in love with virtual reality, but with expectations high for VR’s future revenues, that’s really the goal.