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

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

If you need evidence that Apple is working on a mixed reality headsettake a walk with him HoloKit X. Created by Botao Amber Hu, a developer who has worked at companies like DJI, Google, and Twitter and is now the CEO and founder of Holo Interactive, this headset builds entirely on the existing capabilities of the iPhone to create hands-free interactive augmented reality experiences. It is a powerful showcase of What is posible if Apple ever made a headset using technology already built into your smartphone.

Any such headset coming out of Cupertino would almost certainly cost more than a thousand dollars. (This is Apple, after all.) Check out Meta’s newest mixed reality headsets for reference; it’s starts at $1,499. Headsets on Microsoft’s XR platform cost between $600 and $1,000. These high prices are the reason the HoloKit X exists. Hu, who has long had a special interest in future computing and new media art, he says he wants to “democratize” the world of mixed reality. As such, the HoloKit X costs $129 and all you need is a recent iPhone (excluding iPhone Mini and iPhone SE models) to power it.

An iPhone in your head

The HoloKit X is a plastic headset with optical lenses inside. There’s no tech here (except for an NFC sensor, but more on that later). Just think of it as a bystander, not much different Old School View-Masters. Similar to mobile virtual reality headsets like google cardboard, Lenovo AR Array for Star Wars Gamingor the already disappeared google dreamyou must mount an iPhone on HoloKit X.

Photography: HoloKit

Unlike VR headsets, you’re not looking at a screen. The Iphone is mounted up and away from your eyes. Instead, you are looking through the glass in a 60-degree field of view and can see the physical world as well as the people around you. The iPhone screen, while using the rear cameras to manage these AR experiences, is mirrored by the lenses’ stereoscopic vision, effectively allowing you to view 3D virtual objects embedded in the real world.

exactly what you can do with HoloKit X is limited at this time. There are only a handful of experiences, what Hu calls “Realities,” in the HoloKit app, one of which is a multiplayer dueling game where you cast spells at an enemy. Images are clear, colorful, and fairly sharp, and the platform supports six degrees of freedom through Apple’s ARKit framework. Because of this, you can move around virtual objects and they will stay anchored to the real-world locations where you place them. And when you’re playing, you can even duck to dodge the explosions. The “enemy” can be another person using a HoloKit X in a shared space, a virtual character, or even a character controlled by someone who only has an iPhone.

Since it is entirely powered by an iPhone, the HoloKit app takes advantage of existing technologies. The ability to play a game with other HoloKit X users, for example, doesn’t depend on mobile data or Wi-Fi, but on the local network technology that powers AirDrop. This is also what drives “Spectator View,” which allows anyone using an iPhone and the HoloKit app to view their augmented reality experience in real time by pointing their phone at the scene. (You can record and share this on social media, or stream it via AirPlay to a TV for others to watch.) Hu says that Holo Interactive is also working on a Puppeteer mode that would let someone else direct your AR experience.

There are a few ways to interact with the augmented reality experience. The HoloKit app uses Apple Vision Frame Technology to identify and trace your hand. I didn’t see a demo of this, but the idea is that you can use your hands to interact with objects and the iPhone cameras will recognize your hand movements. Hu says that HoloKit is also compatible with any Bluetooth device that can connect to the iPhone, such as PlayStation controllers.

What I made The demo was the ability to use an Apple Watch’s gyroscope as a motion controller, just like a Wiimote. Hu strapped an Apple Watch to my wrist (works with Watch Series 4 and later) with the HoloKit watch app installed and running, and gave me a wand just so I could feel as if he was using it to cast spells. Lo and behold, I was able to cast spells with mere gestures or a flick of the wrist. I could even point my wand down to charge up a charge bar and activate a more powerful spell. Aiding immersion is the use of spatial audio through any of Apple’s headphones that support that feature, so you can hear a spell buzzing past your right ear. The iPhone’s haptic vibration adds another layer of sensory input, but since the phone is mounted on the earpiece, it only vibrates near your forehead, so you might not feel it right away.

You can use HoloKit X with an 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 ProMax. (You will need to remove the cover to fit.) You will get the best experience with an iPhone you have a lidar sensorwhich became a staple on the Pro models, starting with iPhone 12 series.

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