homido smartphone vr adapter 2

Today Homido is launching a new VR smartphone adapter along with a sleek app designed to play 360 degree, cylindrical, 3D, and 2D videos in a virtual reality format on iOS and Android smartphones.

homido smartphone vr adapterThe Homido VR smartphone adapter is available for pre-order today for €69. The device, which mounts a smartphone into a head-mounted housing for use as a VR headset, will be delivered in October, according to the France-based company. Homido says their VR smartphone adapter is compatible with some 80 smartphones, including all Apple iOS smartphones since the iPhone 4. The headset comes with a pair of lenses and 3 pairs of silicon lens holders, a strap, and a solid looking zip-case to store the unit.

While the VR smartphone adapter joins the competition of several similar devices, the company is also releasing a sleek Homido app that goes above and beyond what we’ve seen in terms of side-by-side video playback that’s specifically designed for such devices. The user-experience is quite impressive as the app can be browsed like usual in portrait mode, but any part of it can be instantly converted into a side-by-side format by switching to landscape mode.

homido virtual reality smartphone app side by side menu
Turn your smartphone sideways anywhere in the Homido app for a corresponding side-by-side view.

The Homido app is a video player and web browser that presents content in a side-by-side view that’s compatible with Homido’s own VR smartphone adapter, and any such device like Google Cardboard, Durovis Dive, and others. The Homdio app can handle local and streamed content in 360 degree, cylindrical, 3D, and 2D projections. The ability to toggle between projection types and side-by-side display makes it compatible with a wide variety of content.

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The app also includes a web browser which can be used to navigate to any mobile-streamable video, including YouTube, or used for viewing web pages. Currently there’s not any effective means of interacting with the page while wearing the headset, but the functionality is there, and could offer an interesting experience if paired with the right bluetooth controller (or possibly a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, in the case of Android).

IMG_6084

The Homido app features an ‘Easy-Nav’ system which lets you bring up a head-tracked cursor. Hovering the cursor over buttons in the app for a moment makes a selection, like playing or pausing a video. Control of the app isn’t perfect yet, but this at least allows hands-free operation to an extent.

The experience still lacks per-headset lens distortion (as all VR smartphone adapters don’t use the same lenses), but there are adjustments that can be made in the settings page to optimize the experience: Side gap, Vertical offset, and Screen size. Going forward it would be great to see a simple ‘select your VR smartphone adapter’ menu that would automatically select the best settings.

IMG_6083I tested the Homido app with and iPhone 5c (as the Android version of the app is not yet available) using Google Cardboard and found a better user-experience than similar apps I’ve used in the past. It’s very easy to browse to the desired content and configure the projection options, especially considering that you can stream any video right out of the web browser.

The experience once placed into the VR smartphone adapter was also generally good, though it’s hard to make a definitive statement about the performance when the adapter I have on hand is not technically compatible with the iPhone. Soon I’ll hopefully have my hands on the Homido VR headset adapter itself and will be able to give a detailed review of the app. I’m particularly interested to see if the Android version of the app will work with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for web browsing.

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What I can say is that videos played back smoothly on the iPhone 5c and the headtracking on 360 degree and cylindrical videos had fairly low latency, but doesn’t compare to what we’ve seen from full-fledged VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus. This is likely due to limitations of the smartphone sensors rather than the app, and hopefully we’ll see performance improve as smartphone sensors begin to be tuned for virtual reality use. For now, the Homido app is an impressive foundation for making it easy to view virtual reality video content through VR smartphone adapters, and I’m looking forward to seeing it evolve as the mobile industry starts to catch on to VR.

The Homido app is currently available for iOS in Apple’s App Store for $1.99 and Homido says it’s coming soon to Android through the Google Play store.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I find it amusing that there are almost as many smartphone VR-viewers as there are smartphone VR apps.
    I wish these people would stop trying to make the exact same device as 10 other companies and start making some decent content for mobile VR. The highest quality VR demo I can open up on my smartphone right now is probably either Google’s “Windy Day”, or DiveCityCoaster, both of which aren’t exactly the cutting edge.

    I am interested in their app, as there’s no really solid smartphone VR video-watching app right now. I’ll be watching the Play store for when it comes out. :)

  2. >>Currently there’s not any effective means of interacting with the page while wearing the headset, but the functionality is there,

    If the phone’s camera is exposed… all one needs to do is print out a paper “keyboard” with fiducial tracking AR markers mapped. Then when a finger/fingers, occlude a marker pattern, it gets converted to keystrokes.

    This AR keyboard pops up as a live camera overlay on the app of-course.

    Regards,

  3. Shame none these smartphone adapter makers had the notion to build one compatible with the Nvidia Shield tablet. That would actually make for a compelling implementation of the idea and probably sell me on both.

  4. Why do these things have to cost so much? It’s more expensive than the Durovis Dive, and both are essentially just pieces of plastic for nearly $100. Apart from enthusiasts, who is going to actually shell out that much money for what is essentially a fancy smartphone case?

      • Samsung is trying to push Tizen to break away from Google…which could be a whole new dedicated system that integrates vr….or not. They’re the closest to solving input issues if they merge their vibrating necklaces/watches. But in the end, it’s clearly the software that makes these headsets valuable. I made my own pre-cardboard headset and it works great with side-by-side video player, mo3d, and dive city coaster. Bare-bones apps from smaller devs on android that still are more exciting than the most commonly downloaded stuff. I ordered one of these homido’s because honestly, a hundred bucks is nothing…And it’s sure to be better than what I made myself that cost $15-20.

        And just going off history, Samsung does not sell devices at cost.

  5. Is this device fixed or variable focus? With older, presbyopic, eyes my focus is pretty much fixed at infinity. I found, for example, that the cardboard is not focused at infinity and is fixed at whatever it is.

    This is going to be a problem for anyone over 40. Ben, are you aware of what similar devices have variable focus?

  6. “Is this device fixed or variable focus?”
    Homido will be delivered with three different lens holders that allow you to adjust the lens position for nearsightedness and farsightedness.
    On top of that there are two mechanisms that allow to adjust IPD and eye to lens distance.
    We’re using a custom made lens, so overall we offer a pretty good “optical experience” compared to what’s available on the market.

    For information we are running a presale campaign: http://www.ulule.com/homido-casque/

    The Homido team

    • Thanks for the reply. It’s still unclear to me whether there are just three fixed focus lenses or some kind of continuous adjustment as well. People with presbyopia (everyone over 50 to an ever increasing degree) are no longer able to exert control of their focal plane. Our lenses have hardened to where the focus cannot be changed so that just a few discrete settings won’t be useful unless we are fortunate enough to have it fixed at one of those points.

      Those of us lucky enough to have cataracts and insurance that covers lens replacement have our focus hard fixed at infinity and so long as you cover that case we’ll be able to use the device.