Last week, the New York Times sent out approximately one million Google Cardboard units to Sunday subscribers, giving many people their first taste of virtual reality. But while Cardboard is an ingenious solution to turning your smartphone into a VR headset, it’s a pretty clunky one too, requiring you to carry around a big foldable box with you whenever you want to slip into digital worlds. Figment is a new case for the iPhone 6/6s/Plus that builds a Google Cardboard style VR viewer right in.
Google Cardboard is essentially just a container for a couple of 45mm focal length lenses a certain distance from a smartphone screen showing dynamic, stereoscopic content. When viewed through those lenses, the smartphone screen appears to be 3-D. Figment does the same thing, but builds those lenses right into the case. When you want to look at some VR content, you just hit a button to pop the lenses out of the case, and swing them around in front of the screen. When you’re not using the lenses, just fold them away, or use them as a kickstand.
The best part of Figment VR is it works with all the existing apps that are compatible with Google Cardboard, so it already has a rather extensive library. And while it costs more than Google’s box of cardboard, it’s surprisingly cheap: early bird supporters of the Figment VR Kickstarter can get one for just $50.
Of course, the debate continues to rage whether or not Google Cardboard’s 360-degree videos qualify as VR or not. But until Oculus figures out how to shrink their technology down to your smartphone, Cardboard-style VR is probably the closest thing you’ll find on mobile, and Figment could be the most elegant way to experience it.