As a developer, one of the most difficult challenges is getting your hands on the actual hardware you are developing for. Samsung’s Gear VR is slowly trickling out to non-US countries, but it may be months before some folks see it. What if there was a cheap, easily built alternative? Now there is, and Mark Schramm is making it happen.

Mark is an already well known developer in the VR community due to his successfully Kickstarted game, Darkfield VR. Living in Australia, he unfortunately will have to wait a while before Gear VR makes its way into his hands. This led him too start thinking about alternative solutions. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

I still remember the first time Mark mentioned that he had plugged his DK1 controller box into his Note 4. My mind started racing with the possibilities. Would that really work? How would it compare to the real Gear VR in terms of performance? So many questions.

See Also: Samsung Gear VR Detailed Review: Part One – Design Comparison to Oculus Rift DK2

Ultimately, after about a month of tinkering, Mark was able to find the parts necessary to create an ‘alternative’ to Gear VR for a significantly cheaper cost than the real thing. Is it a clone? No, but it is definitely a reasonable developer tool, as it provides a very close proximity to the real thing.

It’s interesting to hear how Oculus and Samsung reacted to this project. It warranted a few tweets from Oculus CTO John Carmack, and it cleared out a group of Samsung folks from a VR meetup. Mark assures me that his intention is not to make money off of this, but rather give developers a chance to test out their builds without having a Gear VR in their hands.

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Mark has put together a great website to help further explain the OpenGear project and how to build it. He is encouraging developers to build it on their own and report their findings to the community. Who knows what other exciting projects will be born from this information.

I want to thank Mark for being such a wonderful guest and for thinking outside of the box, both literally and figuratively.

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