If virtual reality is the future of computing / gaming / TV and film (delete as appropriate), for most their first experiences with VR will be with a mobile viewer. Not requiring a flashy console or souped up PC, the likes of Google Cardboard can give you a reasonable sensation of visiting a virtual world just with your smartphone and a shell headset, on the cheap. At £59.99, the Homido may not be the cheapest mobile VR headset out there, but it does justify its price with the effort it makes to be comfortable.
A mixture of lightweight black and red plastics, the Homido works with smartphones between 4 and 5.5-inches in size, with a 1080p 5-inch handset considered optimum. Working with VR apps available on all good app stores (you’ll have the most luck with an Android or iOS device), you’ll only need to download the VR app and pop your phone into the front of the headset to get going.
What sets the Homido apart from other mobile VR headsets is the degree with which it can be adjusted to fit your particular noggin. Liberally padded with foam around your nose, eyes and forehead, velcro straps let you tighten the headset to your preferred level of tension. Dials on the side adjust the distance the phone sits from the lenses, a dial on top tweaks the distance between your two eyes, and the box (which also includes a nice carry case) also comes complete with interchangeable inner lenses for those who are long-or short sighted. There are even little ventilation holes on top, should all the VR action get you a bit hot under the goggles – which will probably happen as your smartphone literally heats up under the strain of the VR applications.
The phone holder’s simplicity is a double edged sword though. A stiff-yet-flexible curve of plastic which you can prise open to firmly clamp your phone in place in front of the goggles, it’s easy to securely get your smartphone strapped in. However, it’s also a bit crude – releasing the phone necessitates you slide your screen against the tough plastic exterior of the Homido, which could easily lead to scuffs on your display should your hand slip. A clip would have been preferable, and likely just as secure.
Mobile virtual reality apps are, to be frank, a bit rubbish at the moment – there’s little of the interactive or graphical sophistication that can be found with Sony’s Morpheus or the Oculus Rift. But the Homido’s 100-degree field of view makes a good effort of making them feel convincing. Whether sat on a VR rollercoaster or exploring a shambling Jurassic Park knock off, the Homido doesn’t let in any external light when put on properly, and is secure enough to let you turn your head at any angle with freedom.
Though it carries with it a premium price tag compared to Google Cardboard then, the more-or-less device agnostic Homido tries its hardest to give a premium feel to the mobile VR experience.
If VR is going to take off, the mobile stepping stone is going to be a vital one. And if mobile is to be the place where the virtual reality virgin masses first get their taste of the matrix-sprawl, Homido makes a very good first impression. [Homido]