Merge VR

Merge VR or foam virtual reality

In the maze of the Convention Center of Los Angeles where the E3 2015, the Electronic Entertainment Expo takes place, far from the thunderous stands of Microsoft, Activision or Sony from which escapes a hubbub of shootings and explosions, rows of small booths line up in a mezzanine of Olympian calm. A plethora of companies present their projects more quietly, some spokespersons even pacing the aisles with their hands in their pockets waiting for possible visitors… This is where the Texan start-up Merge VR is installed, to offer demos of its virtual reality mask “soft as a marshmallow”.

Almost a low tech material

This is indeed the argument. This purple mask for smartphone relies on the particularity of its material, a closed cell foam, washable, very light to wear. Almost a low tech product. The immersion is not the best performing, although the demo to which we were treated consisted of a concert by Paul McCartney and therefore depends on how the show was captured. No problem when you turn on yourself wherever you look in the air, the room is there, all around you (and the “foam effect” provides undeniable comfort during head movements); on the other hand, looking too much your feet is like going out of the frame. The company is actually planning to launch an application store, Merge Start, where it will be possible to download virtual reality programs designed by partners. To be honest, like most of these devices, Merge VR is a product that is still searching for itself and trying out a little bit of everything. A removable cover makes it possible to disengage the camera from the smartphone to, this time, obtain in the mask augmented reality effects. In this case, for the demo, by framing a sheet with special markers, we make appear a dinosaur in the real setting that we are filming and seeing on the screen. But maybe this is soft virtual reality…

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