Smartphone glasses are a cheap VR entry
Published on 20.06.2016
If you want to immerse yourself in virtual realities, you do not have to slaughter the piggy bank: Two years ago Google demonstrated with its Cardboard glasses that in principle a smartphone is enough to experience 360-degree videos and games from new perspectives.
Meanwhile, there are also cheap glasses that are not made of cardboard (“Cardboard”). “Computer Bild” tested the most interesting representatives.
Smartphones bring VR illusion
The functional principle of these glasses for VR beginners is as simple as it is ingenious: A smartphone is placed in a frame made of plastic or cardboard, the mobile phone display takes over the presentation of special VR content.
The two magnifying lenses in the frame allow two slightly offset partial images to pass through to both eyes, which the brain then combines again into a complete image – similar to a 3-D glasses.
The sensors in the smartphone enable the all-round view necessary for VR experiences. However, the mobile phone only registers head movements, body movements are only detected by the high-tech glasses with their significantly more complex sensors.
But the racks have an advantage: There is no tangle of cables here, the mobile phone battery provides the energy. In order to create a feeling in the middle, the sound should not come from the tiny smartphone speakers, but from headphones.
Cold plastic instead of rough cardboard
The cardboard glasses from Google, however, were rather a rather spectacular advertising gag; the uncomfortable fit due to the sharp cardboard edges slowed down the illusion before it could arise. Well-known manufacturers such as Samsung, Zeiss & Co.have therefore taken up the idea and refined it with sturdy plastic glasses.
Foam surrounds increase the wearing comfort, headbands provide the necessary support. With prices between 50 and 100 euros, corresponding models are significantly more expensive than the Google cardboard, but also much cheaper than the glasses from Oculus or Vive.
During longer movie or game evenings, however, the smartphone glasses reach their limits: The fleece cover inside the Samsung Gear VR hardly lets the waste heat escape and quickly leads to fogged lenses. The Exos 3D does this a little better, but lets too much light into the space between lenses and eyes. This significantly reduces the VR experience.
Between zombies and porn
Whether as a video tourist in foreign countries, shoulder to shoulder with Paul McCartney or on the run from pixel zombies-despite the technical shortcomings, the cheap glasses for the smartphone also give the wow effect of the VR experience.
Which is why, of course, the porn industry wants to provide completely new perspectives with these devices.
At the edge they are all blurred
The illusion depends on the image quality, which results, among other things, from the display resolution. The test candidates used the complete pixel range: From the iPhone 6 Plus (Full HD; 1920 x 1080 pixels) to the Samsung Galaxy S7 (QHD; 2560 x 1440 pixels) to the mobile phone with the currently sharpest display, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium (4K; 3840 x 2160 pixels).
Of course, none of the smartphone eyewear combinations offered good image quality. Especially with little action on the display, individual pixels and a pixel grid were recognizable. With the 4K Sony, the display was particularly rough-despite high-quality Zeiss lenses in the VR One.
After all, flickering edges and edge blurring did not interfere, as in the competition. The Trust glasses, in turn, destroyed the illusion due to too small a field of view.
The Samsung Gear VR took the test victory with good workmanship and the extensive range in the Oculus store-Samsung and Oculus work together. The integrated control is also convincing: On the side, the Gear VR has a touchpad that can be operated intuitively, albeit somewhat strenuously in the long run, with the swipe gestures known from the smartphone.
Zeiss VR One and Trust Exos 3D, on the other hand, do not offer any operating options. So the user has to take the phone out of the holder again and again, tap on the display and put the smartphone back into the compartment. After all, games can be controlled with Bluetooth gamepads for all test candidates.
Conclusion: The glasses for the smartphone enable the inexpensive entry into the VR experience. This is best achieved with the Gear VR from Samsung, also because the Oculus Store with its numerous apps provides enough eye food. These models are less suitable for full immersion in gaming worlds, instead the focus is on multimedia content such as 360-degree videos.
Source: “Computer Bild”, issue 10/2016. computerbild.de.