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Zeiss offers a virtual reality check

The Zeiss VR One headset, developed by Carl Zeiss of camera lens fame, could also prove to be incredibly popular. On first glance it looks very similar to Samsung's recently announced VR headset, the Gear VR, it even works on the same principle -- that it requires the wearer to slide a smartphone into it for it to work.

gadgets Updated: Oct 14, 2014 12:29 IST
VR One

Zeiss-VR-One-Photo-AFP

From the Oculus Rift to Google's quirky project cardboard by way of Samsung's Gear VR, the market for virtual reality headsets is starting to grow, and with the latest addition, it could become crowded.

However, the Zeiss VR One headset, developed by Carl Zeiss of camera lens fame, could also prove to be incredibly popular. On first glance it looks very similar to Samsung's recently announced VR headset, the Gear VR, it even works on the same principle -- that it requires the wearer to slide a smartphone into it for it to work.

However, there is one major difference too. The Samsung headset will only work with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet, whereas the VR One will work with potentially any smartphone with a 4.7-inch to 5.3-inches.

That means that an iPhone 6, a Samsung Galaxy S4 and a HTC One M8 among others, are all compatible. When the initial shipments start, the device will be offered with a slot designed to specifically hold either an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S5 but Zeiss has confirmed that slots for other devices are coming too.

As well as interoperability, the other big thing in the headset's favor is price. It is going to cost just $99/€99 when it starts shipping in the US and Europe.

That's $100 less than the cost of Samsung's headset and, because owners won't have to invest in a new handset to power it, it could prove to be very tempting indeed to anyone intrigued by the technology but not prepared to stump up a huge amount of money just to ‘give it a go'. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will cost up to $600 off contract when it launches later this month.

However, like Ultra High Definition television, there is a dearth of content for virtual reality headsets at the moment, regardless of which company's you plump for.

Installing the iPhone or Android app will let owners use the VR One for watching YouTube videos in 2D or 3D and for viewing photo slide shows for navigating Google Street View in a panoramic fashion.

But, for the moment at least, that's all. Zeiss hopes to kickstart the generation of more content and games through its Unity3D SDK -- i.e., the kit sent out to developers to help them create apps and other features -- which is open source and so the possibilities and potential applications are greater than for just one ecosystem or device type.

The VR One is available to order now in the US and Europe and will be coming up for reservation in Asia soon. However, the company has given no word as to when exactly early adopters can expect to get their hands on and heads around the new device.

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