Figment VR is designed to be inexpensive, unobtrusive, minimalist ... and did we mention it's a phone case? The two-ounce VR viewer folds away like origami when not in use, disappearing into a slick and protective polycarbonate and aluminum case.
For those who want a full VR experience, upcoming VR devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that provide an utterly immersive environment are going to be much more satisfying than looking at content on a clip-on screen.
While it's clearly not intended for serious VR gaming (since you've got at least one hand occupied holding the viewer/phone combo), this lightweight device has a number of assets that could make it a cheaper way to jump into the world of VR. And apparently the crowd agrees, as the Figment VR has already exceeded its fundraising goal on Kickstarter.
The first is the fact that it's always with you. For some people, VR content is something that's likely to be consumed casually and in small bites, behavior that lends itself to something you've got in your pocket. The flip side to that is that you're taking something that's meant to be done at home and doing a watered-down version of it in public, but some may be willing to make that trade-off.
The viewer's sides are open, so it flips out at "the right distance from your eyes." While you might feel perfectly secure isolating yourself from your environment at home or with friends, it's another thing to check into the matrix with your backpack next to you on the subway. Having the sides open will compromise the experience compared with fully enclosed headgear (perhaps to the point where it's hard to even call it virtual reality), but at retail prices expected to start at US$79, VR devotees won't be forced to make an either/or choice.
Though the device could have promise, there are a few other things that give us pause. The field of view on anything smaller than an iPhone 6 Plus might be somewhat limited, for example. And because of their exposure on the rear of the case, the viewer lenses could become scratched over time. It's also limited to Google Cardboard content, which is much weaker in the App Store than it is on Android phones.
Currently at the pre-production prototype stage of development, the Figment VR is raising funds on Kickstarter. Pledges start at $55, with shipping estimated to start in March, if all goes according to plan.
Initially, the VR phone case will fit only iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus, but the company says that if this project goes well, viewers for additional devices will follow. As well as the black version shown above, the Figment VR will also be available in white.
Check out the short video with detail of the Figment VR below.