While virtual reality headsets are now available in all shapes and sizes, augmented reality tech is in a strange kind of limbo. Headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens and the Magic Leap One remain limited to developers with a lot of cash to spare, but at the same time Apple and Google are bringing increasingly complex AR to our everyday smartphones.
Ghost aims to combine the best of both worlds: a fully immersive AR experience, but one that still uses your phone to power it, keeping costs down and letting you roam free without any tethered connection to a computer.
The two-tier device has a holder for your phone on top and visor underneath, through which you can view the real world, with smartphone-powered projections overlaid above. Two years in the making, the developers behind the device say they were inspired by smartphone-powered VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and Google's Daydream View – inexpensive, simple, and fun.
If all goes to plan with the crowdfunding, Ghost will bring a 70-degree field of view, inside-out tracking (using your phone's sensors to judge where you are in 3D space), and produce a high-resolution image in front of your eyes – limited in part by the screen resolution of the phone you're using it with.
The headset will be compatible with any iPhone launched since 2015's iPhone 6s, as well as both generations of the Google Pixel handset, and the Galaxy S7 and S8 phones. As yet there's no word on how many other phones might become compatible with Ghost.
As for the software side, the headset is going to come with Ghost OS on board, letting you view 3D models, YouTube clips, and macOS apps floating in mid-air in front of you, right out of the box. The device makers are promising that AR apps can be easily ported over from smartphones, and Ghost can work as a standard VR headset too, apparently capable of running apps that work with Google Cardboard.
That should be enough to give Ghost a good head start in terms of software, but as with any crowdfunded project, various challenges remain – not least raising enough money to get the hardware made (it's just a concept at the moment). Ghost needs US$80,000 over the next month to stand a chance of becoming a real product.
Speaking of money, pledges start at $79 for an early bird special on Indiegogo. If everything runs to schedule, and Ghost hits its funding goal, headsets are expected to be shipped in February 2019. Check the video below for a demo of how Ghost and Ghost OS work in practice.
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