Nov 15, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive: Cheap AR headset lets you view Apple's spatial videos

Zappar's $80 Zapbox mixed reality headset relies on the display and computing power of a smartphone .

Image: Zappar

AR startup Zappar says its $80 Zapbox headset is the first mixed reality device capable of playing back the new spatial video format that Apple has just added to the iPhone operating system.

Why it matters: The latest test version of iOS gives recent iPhones the ability to harness multiple cameras in order to capture content in a more immersive way.

  • While these new videos are primarily designed for playback on the forthcoming Vision Pro, Zappar says its device can play them back today. Apple's headset will cost thousands of dollars and isn't arriving until next year.

Details: Zappar showed off the new capability in a video shared first with Axios. In the coming weeks, it plans to add a specialized app for viewing the spatial movies on Zapbox.

  • Like previously available budget headsets such as Google's Cardboard and Samsung's Galaxy VR, Zapbox relies on the smartphone for the display and processing power. It works now with the iPhone 11 and later models, and Android support is said to be coming later this year.
  • Zapbox comes with two Bluetooth controllers and also offers the ability to view 3D models from Sketchfab and play VR games such as chess and pool.

Yes, but: Zapbox may be the first, but it won't be the only company besides Apple to support the new format. Other VR headset makers are likely to quickly follow suit. And many of those offer significantly higher resolution and more features than Zapbox.

What they're saying: "We couldn't be more excited about offering spatial video to the hundreds of thousands of iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max users who can't afford the $3,500 price tag for the Vision Pro," Simon Taylor, Chief R&D Officer for Zapbox, said in a statement to Axios.

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