Carl Zeiss just announced VR One, a virtual reality headset for use with a smartphone. It's similar to the Gear VR by Samsung and Oculus, except at €99 (£77.94), it's cheaper.
The VR One is a head-mounted viewer for virtual reality content that's playing on your phone. The viewer works with phones between 4.7 and 5.2 inches. You feed the phones into a slot on the VR One using a tray specifically designed for whatever phone you happen to have.
Right now, there are only trays for the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. And it's worth noting that the headset will not work with larger phones like the iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4, or LG G3. Still, we've got a feeling he Zeiss viewer might find a market considering the Gear VR only works with the Galaxy Note 4, while the VR One could theoretically work with a long list of smaller phones.
The VR One has its own SDK for iOS and Android, and at launch there will be two different VR apps developed by Zeiss.
Zeiss is best known as the designer and manufacturer of premium lenses for cameras, and though virtual reality seems far afield, it's closer than you think. Zeiss is an optics company after all, and part of the challenge for creating a face case for your phone is nailing the viewing distance and lenses so that it actually works. Moreover, Zeiss has taken an interest in smartphones in recent years, and designs lenses for some of the best smartphone cameras, like the Nokia Lumia line.
Of course, it's not cheap like Dodocase's $25 Virtual Reality Cardboard Toolkit, but it appears pretty reasonable considering this is a real piece of substantive hardware. Indeed, the VR One is a solid-looking piece of kit.
Ultimately, the price will be justified or not depending on whether devs actually build content for the VR One, or if the content built for other viewers easily translates over. We'll find out in December when we get a chance stick our eyes in the VR One for the first time. [Zeiss]