The MergeVR is Google Cardboard-compliant, just like the previous reviewed (and actually cardboard) DODOCase, but the MergeVR unit is more expensive, a lot sturdier, and designed for extended wear. Are the “extras” worth it? Let’s take a look.
As stated in the FirstLook, the Merge VR goggles has the following features:
- Flexible foam body with anti-fog ventilation
- Adjustable lenses and straps
- Dual Input Button
- Audio port
- Camera Port for AR applications
The foam body of the MergeVR is soft enough to rest comfortably on the face yet sufficiently sturdy to hold a large smartphone, an iPhone 6+ in our case. The MergeVR housing, unlike the velcro-secured flap of the DODOCase, will not let the smartphone slip out even when tilted 90º. The tradeoff with with having a more secure hold is that it’s fairly unwieldy when you need to take the phone out of the unit (and then back in) in order to navigate YouTube’s app UI for selecting clips, which you need to do repeatedly.
The biggest difference between the MergeVR and DODOCase is that the MergeVR has three head straps, whereas the DODOCase has none. Properly adjusted, the straps hold the goggles comfortably on the head, allowing both hands to be free to work the controls or to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the VR experience. We were able to wear the MergeVR goggles for almost an hour without experiencing any discomfort. BTW, we would recommend sitting in a chair which can swivel and rock to appreciate a true VR experience.
What to do with VR Goggles, regardless of which ones you have
There are a lot of interesting VR experiences out there in cyberspace. One interesting place to start is Google Street View (GSV). We like it because, in addition to the professionally produced 360º VR scenes, GSV allows anyone to upload “photo spheres” to GSV. At times it may feel a little like looking at other people’s vacation photos, but the good thing is you are free to look ALL around. In most cases, there is always something interesting 🙂
Visiting places all over the world is fun and is the obvious application of VR, but another great application is storytelling. However, the same feature which makes virtual visits to exotic locations compelling can be a challenge for traditional storytellers: how do you tell all of the stories that VR makes possible in any given scene?
We realized this after looking at a bunch of stories published on Vrse. In VR stories, the tellers no longer have absolute control over the visual path taken by the listener. This lack of control is both freeing and potentially problematic, for everyone. But judging by the quality of the investment of effort we saw on Vrse, big players are excited by the potential of the new medium.
We realized it after viewing The SOURCE, a story about how access to clean water changed a little girl’s future. While the story could have been told the traditional way, being able to look around while the story was being told gave the experience a much more intimate and real-time feel, something difficult to achieve with still photography or even video. The story is still the most important component, and technology will not make a dull story interesting, but it can make a good story fascinating.
Virtual reality as an industry is coming into its own. A lot of companies are moving into this space. The hype will snowball now that the tech, hardware, and content are all becoming more accessible. While “holodeck VR” is still a ways away, VR goggles are providing a glimpse of the potential of this new medium for something very old…telling stories.
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