Low-cost virtual reality headsets for your smartphone

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When Facebook announced its acquisition of Oculus VR ahead of the consumer release of their Rift headset, the rest of the virtual reality community rubbed its hands together and smiled with glee. In one swift swipe of his pen, the signature of Mark Zuckerberg on a $2bn cheque created global awareness of virtual reality before Oculus had brought a single product to market.

VISR VR, the Hull based virtual reality company who were recently enrolled onto the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme, sought to capitalise upon this opportunity by developing and releasing a low cost cardboard headset that could provide the best virtual reality experience on the market. The company hit Kickstarter back in 2014 but soon found that the consumer market wasn’t where the product was best situated, when they ran into difficulties educating consumers on why they should buy what is essentially a piece of folded cardboard with a smartphone slotted into it.

VISR VR’s flagship product – the VISR – is, quite frankly, the most exquisite piece of folded cardboard you will ever come across. Making use of a series of ingenious interference locking mechanisms and a few dabs of adhesive, it can be customised to house any smartphone and can be fully branded with minimal effort. An adjustable eye piece rail enables precision lens focusing and an elastic head strap ensures the user’s hands are completely free to perform the obligatory arm waving that all virtual reality first timers demonstrate. As an example of product design alone it is conversation worthy, however when it springs to life running one of the company’s in-house developed apps it is truly breath-taking.

Six months after the Kickstarter consumer launch, VISR has realigned its business strategy and has galvanised its mission of becoming “Europe’s go-to provider of end-to-end solutions for businesses and brands struggling to put together virtual reality campaigns”. Alex Beamer, VISR VR’s Chief Operating Officer has steered the company away from the “hardcore gamers with the powerful computer hardware looking for the fully immersive virtual reality experience” and believes their power lies in the ability to provide bite-size, often disposable, solutions for the seemingly endless stream of brands that want to move into the virtual reality space but don’t know how to.

Alex boasts, “all I have to do is put the VISR on the head of any CEO or Head of Marketing for them to want one” and with a whole host of partnerships in the pipeline including: a mysterious unnamed “large automotive manufacturer”, a number of cosmetic companies and the social gaming company War Gaming, his confidence appears to be paying dividends. What VISR VR now offers to its clients is the full package of brand emblazoned VISR headsets – of which production is fully scalable “from one to a million units” – combined with tailored content which brands can quite literally put in front of the consumer’s eyes. Where their competitors use integrated screens taken from tablets and smartphones, VISR VR don’t see the need to force their customers to buy this technology twice and so utilise “the phone you already own”. Combine this minimalistic approach to hardware with the simple fact that their product is made from corrugated cardboard and it is no wonder that they are able to offer these packages at a fraction of the price of their competitors – the VISR currently sells to business at a starting price of £12 per unit.

In the words of Alex himself, “The best way to experience VISR is to experience VISR” and at that price it seems rude not to.