Move over Google Cardboard and Durovis Dive, because Pinć wants a seat at the mobile VR table, and with their new iPhone 6 case—which hides a small form factor VR headset—they’ll be needing a little elbow room.
Cordon Media, a Toronto-based marketing agency, is hoping to rocket virtual reality into the mainstream with an iPhone 6 case that turns the phone into an on-demand VR headset. Providing it works, it could really make mobile VR, well… actually mobile. They call it Pinć (pronounced ‘pinch’), and like many mobile VR solutions it wants to drive their proprietary app with the graphical processing power of a smartphone—namely the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
What’s All This Pinching About?
With their unique optical control system—a set of ‘Pincher’ rings that let you register gestures though the proprietary add-on camera lens—you’re effectively able to use the familiar ‘pinch to zoom’ concept inside the app that will support the case. It’s a smart move on Cordon’s part to integrate pre-existing operational paradigms into what could be a person’s first time using a VR capable device, potentially making for a critical reduction in the learning curve. In fact, the makers are so open about appealing to a wider audience with their device and iOS app combo, that they’ve shifted their focus from mobile gaming entirely, instead opting to concentrate on the more casual applications.
“We see the opportunity for VR as much broader than just gaming. Areas like everyday computing, productivity and commerce are very interesting for us.” says Milan Baic, President of Cordon.
This means YouTube videos, web browsing and a heavy emphasis on retail. The app is also planned to be free of cost, but there’s no word yet if the proprietary ‘Pincher’ gesture rings will be required to run it.
While the Pinć case itself looks like a promising concept and something that company could pull off, software on the scope that they’ve implied may be the bigger challenge, especially given only $100,000 as requested by their crowdfunding campaign.
Where to from Here?
The makers intend to put out a ‘Discovery Edition’ devkit, and they have their work cut out for them. They’ve already listed a number of boxes to check before they feel comfortable releasing the VR headset into the eager hands of backers. Above all, they’re planning on slimming down the already 19mm (3/4 inch) thick case, and reducing the camera lens profile, presumably to limit any threat of the dreaded pocket snags. Although not grotesquely intrusive in its current state, the future size factor will determine if it becomes the ubiquitous device Cordon Media wants it to be.
Making it more comfortable to wear, refining the ‘Pincher’ rings, and streamlining the overall manufacture process for full scale production are also on the to-do list, as well as releasing an SDK and documentation to the iOS developer community.
But will it hold up to the sort of daily abuse smartphone users come to expect of their devices? Will the lenses be scratch resistant? Will it do AR? Will it ever come to Android devices? We’ll be sure to keep you posted, because—after all—it looks damn cool.