ZapBox Kickstarter Campaign Aims to Create Affordable Mixed Reality
The “cardboard of AR”, ZapBox has transformed into a plastic headset with 6DoF “passthrough” virtual reality and augmented reality experiences that can leverage any smartphone. ZapBox Kickstarter campaign has now been launched with the aim of raising $65,000 for developing the 6DoF Mixed Reality device.
The original Zapbox was launched in 2016 as a cardboard Mixed Reality (MR) device that would be an entry-level option for developers. Costing just $40, Zapper has described its MR device as a “Magic Leap for super cheap”. Four years ago, an ARKit or ARCore plane detecting technology for smartphones did not exist and as a result, the Zappar mixed reality devices had to use paper markers in anchoring their Augmented Reality content to the physical world.
In a press release, the device’s developer Zappar stated that ZapBox provides users with “an almost uninterrupted peripheral view of the real world” while also naturally blending into the immersive content that is shown in 3D in front of the user. The company states that the Mixed Reality setup will enable a “fully opaque content and true blacks” and its open and glasses style design allows users to use their peripheral vision to keep connected to the real world. Apart from the headsets, it also features a pair of 6DoF controllers that give an interactive element to the experience.
The fact that the new Zapbox is a “pass through” device should appeal to many funders. The users’ view of the physical world will be directly via the smartphone camera where it will more seamlessly mix the digital content. As a result, the device will be capable of rendering both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality content.
Zapbox’s new head-mounted smartphone caddy is now made from plastic rather than a cardboard. It has live-hinged phone grips that centrally and securely hold the phone in place. The caddy also supports wide-ranging device sizes. Its new 6DoF controllers now feature a slimmer profile with more robust world tracking. There is also a Zapbox for Unity plugin with which developers can build native iOS or Android apps for ZapWorks Studio tool and which can instantly be viewed in the ZapBox app.
The free ZapBox app comes with eight demo experiences out of the box. The Unity feature enables any developer to distribute their own apps with compatibility with ZapBox should they wish to. Users will also be able to download existing virtual reality apps onto ZapBox such as Within that can provide them with cinematic VR experiences.
Founded in 2011, Zappar’s principal area of focus was its AR creation tool that was built for businesses, agencies and creatives to help users who wish to build native and web-based AR content. Zappar’s tools have been used in developing Augmented Reality campaigns for various enterprise partners such as Universal, Nestle, PEZ, Rovio/Angry Birds and Warner Bros. In 2017, the company closed a $3.75 million round of financing.
In 2016, Zappar raised $90,000 for its original ZapBox which was triple the targeted goal. Zappar stated its original mission as enabling developers to experiment with the possibilities of immersive 6DoF Mixed Reality and Virtual Reality experiences without incurring high hardware costs which is usually a major barrier to entry. According to the company, the new ZapBox creates a delicate balance between affordability and capability and will enable both Unity and ZapWorks users to build more impactful experiences.
The funding goal for the new ZapBox is $65,000 with pledges costing anywhere from $40 for a single unit to $299 for the 10-pack.