Zeiss has announced the Zeiss VR One Connect, aimed at letting smartphone users tap into the growing library of Virtual Reality content developed for Valve Software's SteamVR platform.
VR One Connect works with late-model smartphones (iOS or Android). The phone is inserted into the VR One Connect ("or other") headset. It is then connected to a VR-ready PC via USB cable. Two wireless controllers are linked to the smartphone via Low Energy (LE) Bluetooth. This setup emulates a SteamVR headset (like the HTC Vive), allowing users to experience content developed for that platform.
"This product was much needed in the market," said Dave Hodgson, North America sales representative for Zeiss. "It's propelling VR from a very niche market to a mass market, providing entry-level solutions based on your mobile phone so that the technology is accessible to everyone."
"Users will now be able to access games on SteamVR in a much different way than previous options, and they'll also have access to traditional VR apps and 360 video content," said Franz Troppenhagen, senior product manager at Zeiss.
One presumes that there will be limitations based on compatibility and on processing power, that could impact the VR One Connect experience depending on the demands of the content. It's also not clear what headsets VR One Connect will support, though obvious candidates might be the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard or Google Daydream View.
Also worth noting: in a footnote, the Zeiss announcement mentions that its VR One Connect is "powered by PXL Vision." This would seem to imply that it may be a licensed version, or derivation, of PXL Beam VR.
Regardless, Zeiss VR One sounds like an interesting option for consumers who want to test the VR waters on the cheap. It's scheduled to appear at major US retailers in the spring, for $129 USD.