Those who are on the verge of investing in an Oculus Rift headset but don’t have the confidence to get into it just yet may want to sit tight. Progress is being made on an application for Google Cardboard to stream VR from your PC to your phone. It’s called VRidge, is being developed by RiftCat, and while the company says it’s hoping to get an iOS version working soon, it’s currently limited to a beta on Android. But a lot of progress was made with the most recent update, when the company added support for SteamVR and OSVR (Razer’s open source VR project).
Despite being in beta, the potential is huge for those who don’t feel like investing in a high-end VR headset on top of the expenses for their phone and desktop. A conventional setup typically requires a desktop worth somewhere north of 1,500 dollars and either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The first goes for 600 dollars, the second tops that at 800. Is your wallet hurting yet?
There’s a backside to this solution of course: It has to be streamed wirelessly, something that neither the Oculus Rift nor the HTC Vive supports. And there’s a good reason for that, since there’s a considerable delay to factor in. This simply hasn’t yet become a viable solution for commercial products. Even if we claim that mobile VR is untethered, it’s basically just solved by packing all of the mobile horsepower in front of the lenses to enable your virtual experience. Truly wireless solutions are being investigated by all major VR headset manufacturers, and the first one to achieve it will have significant leverage against its market rivals.
Then there’s the beta tag. Beta means a lot of things, and stability is usually not one of them. However, the company assures users that it’s now reached a level where it’s more likely to work than not. While problems like rendering glitches, blurry text, extra loading times, or lag are present, there’s confidence that the app now provides a relatively pleasant experience. You can head over to RiftCat’s blog post to see more details on how games like Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Elite: Dangerous work using VRidge. The developer discourages users from purchasing VR games just for VRidge.
But the progress on the VRidge app gives a lot of credence to the idea of a budget solution before we start seeing desktop specific budget VR hardware. As we pointed out earlier, most people don’t want to invest heavily in a headset when they’ve already got a decent mobile headset at home. It’s no surprise that there are problems with the app this early in development, especially when none of the larger heavy investors have presented a viable solution either.