While the organizers of GITEX can claim a world first in their record-breaking “highest number of people to take a virtual roller coaster ride in one hour”, a company showcasing its hardware at the week-long exhibition is also keen on setting its own records.
Opto, a virtual reality startup based in London that has used crowd-sourced campaign platforms like Kickstarter to raise funds towards some of its products, launched Opto Air, a new mobile virtual reality headset, at the ongoing GITEX Technology Week in Dubai.
Opto Air has been designed to make VR accessible to everyone
Unlike its existing competition in the market, namely the Samsung Gear VR and others, Opto Air’s focus, according to founder Mahdi Yahya, is on making its users use VR headsets for other things besides games. “Casual users have been largely ignored by the largest headset manufacturers who have concentrated almost exclusively on the high-end gaming market. Many casual users want to watch and experience VR films, photographs and games, but are intimidated by the products that are currently in the market. Opto Air has been designed to make VR accessible to everyone,” he said.
Like 360-degree video content and photos which are best viewed on a virtual reality headset.
Like the Gear VR, however, the Opto Air is reliant on a smartphone’s display. It has a magnetic cover that lets a user put in and remove a smartphone from the headset and arrives with support for devices with various screen sizes (anything between 4 and 5.5-inches). The only requirement is a headphone jack. This effectively rules out Apple’s latest iPhones which infamously lack the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Its most unique feature, however, is its high-quality over-ear speakers meant to provide a very immersive audio experience, something we have not seen being emphasized by existing mobile VR headsets so far.
Taking a leaf out of Google’s newly-unveiled Daydream View headset, Opto Air drops the use of plastic in favour of foam to make the headset both lightweight and comfortable to wear.
Opto Air goes for an equivalent of $120, slightly more than Samsung’s Gear VR which costs $99. It comes in blue, yellow, and grey colours. Orange and lilac-coloured models are expected to be made available soon.