ZapBox Reveals $40 Smartphone AR Headset

In 2016, UK-based Zappar released a cardboard headset named ZapBox for viewing AR experiences through your smartphone. Today, the company is revealing a refreshed model using plastic.

The new ZapBox just launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign looking for $65,000. Zappar labels the new device as a Mixed Reality headset capable of delivering augmented reality content with 6DOF movement for $40 and support for virtual reality, though its definition of VR is a little liberal.

Next ZapBox AR Headset Revealed

On the hardware front, the new ZapBox delivers a halo strap-design headset with brackets to hold a smartphone in front of a pair of lenses. The kit features two marker-based 6DOF controllers with triggers and a camera adaptor to place over your phone’s camera for a wider field of view. You can use a third square marker combined with computer vision to anchor virtual content to appear in the real world.

The company says any iPhone from 6 onwards will work with the kit, though can’t individually verify Android handset compatibility. It recommends Android phones be on the “higher end of the performance spectrum” and feature a gyroscope sensor and 60FPS camera mode.

ZapBox AR Headset VR Support

When it comes to VR, however, ZapBox proposes accessing Google Cardboard-style content with a view of the real world beyond the limits of the headset’s field of view. The company reasons this is a more comfortable and social way to experience VR without being cut off from the world, but you then have to question if it’s really VR at all.

That aside, ZapBox comes with an existing suite of content that makes use of its AR features, plus all previously-made ZapBox apps will work on the new kit.

Early bird units for ZapBox go for $35 but, once they’re gone, the price goes to $40. The company anticipates shipping the kit to consumers and developers in April 2021. For $65, developers will also get early access to the ZapBox Unity SDK in beta and an older model ZapBox to get working with.


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