HoloKit X AR headset for iPhone: price, features, release date

if you need proof that Apple is working on a mixed reality headset, try HoloKit X. Created by Botao Amber Hu, a developer who has worked for companies like DJI, Google and Twitter and now is the CEO and founder of Holo Interactive, this headset The headset relies entirely on existing iPhone capabilities to create hands-free interactive augmented reality experiences. It’s a powerful showcase of what’s possible if Apple ever made a headset using technology already built into its smartphone.

Any such headset to come out of the Cupertino would almost certainly cost over a thousand dollars. (This is Apple, after all.) Take a look at Meta’s newest mixed reality headset; starts at $ 1,499. Headsets on Microsoft’s XR platform cost anywhere from $ 600 to $ 1,000. These high prices make HoloKit X exist. Hu, who has a long-standing interest in future computers and new media art, says he wants to “democratize” the world of mixed reality. As such, the HoloKit X costs $ 129, and all you need is the latest iPhone (except for the iPhone Mini and iPhone SE models) to power it up.

iPhone on your head

HoloKit X is a plastic headset with optical lenses inside. There is no technology here (except for the NFC sensor, but more on that later). Think of it as a viewer, much like the old school View-Masters. As with mobile virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard, the Lenovo AR for Star Wars gaming, or the now defunct Google Daydream, you’ll need to mount your iPhone on the HoloKit X.

Photo: HoloKit

Unlike the VR headset, you don’t look at the screen. iPhone is mounted away from your eyes. Instead, you look through the glass in a 60-degree field of view and see the physical world as well as the people around you. The iPhone’s screen, when using the rear cameras to manage these AR experiences, is mirrored in stereoscopic vision on the lenses, so you can effectively see virtual 3D objects embedded in the real world.

Exactly what you can do HoloKit X is now limited. There are only a handful of experiences in the HoloKit app – what Hu calls “Realities.” One of them is a multiplayer duel where you cast spells on the enemy. The visuals are crisp, colorful, and fairly sharp, and the platform supports six degrees of freedom via Apple’s ARKit platform. This allows you to navigate your virtual objects and they will remain anchored to the actual places you put them. And when you play the game, you can even dodge to avoid explosions. The “enemy” can be another person using HoloKit X in a shared space, a virtual character, or even a character controlled by someone who only has an iPhone.

Since it is powered entirely by iPhone, the HoloKit app uses existing technologies. The ability to play the game with other HoloKit X users, for example, is not based on cellular data or Wi-Fi, but rather on local network technology that powers AirDrop. It also supports “Spectator View” which allows anyone to use an iPhone and the HoloKit app to view real-time augmented reality experiences while pointing their phone to the scene. (You can record it and share it on social media, or AirPlay it to your TV for others to see.) Hu says Holo Interactive is also working on a Puppeteer mode that would allow someone else to direct your AR experience.

There are several ways to interact with augmented reality. The HoloKit app uses Apple Vision technology to identify and track your hand. I haven’t seen a demonstration of this, but the point is that you can just use your hands to interact with objects and iPhone cameras will recognize your hand movements. Hu says HoloKit also supports any Bluetooth device that can connect to an iPhone, such as PlayStation controllers.

What I did The demo was the ability to use the Apple Watch’s gyroscope as a motion controller, much like the Wiimote. Hu clipped an Apple Watch to my wrist (works with Watch Series 4 and newer) with the HoloKit app installed and running, and gave me a wand just so I could feel as if I was using it to cast spells. Here I was able to cast spells with simple gestures or a flick of my wrist. I could even point my wand down to load the loading bar and trigger a more powerful spell. Learning immersion is to use surround sound through any Apple headphones that support this feature, so you can hear the spell fly past your right ear. The iPhone’s tactile vibration adds another layer of sensory input, but since the phone is mounted in the headset, it only vibrates near your forehead, so you may not feel it right away.

HoloKit X can be used with iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14, and iPhone 14 and 14 Pro Max. (You need to remove the case for it to fit.) You’ll get the best experience with the lidar-based iPhone that has become the staple of the Pro models – starting with the iPhone 12 series.

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