Last week I met up with the people behind Pinć (Pinch), an under development VR headset that utilizes Minority Report-style user interfaces opposed to the mostly gaming experiences we’ve seen thus far from the competition. There are also a few other big differentiators for Pinc: it doubles as an iPhone case, uses hand gestures tracked by the iPhone’s camera for input, and includes a full SDK for developers built on Unity.
Pinć utilizes a wireless ring (or pinchers) on each hand that allow users to navigate with touchscreen-like hand gestures when tracked by the device’s camera. A proprietary optics system is also used to enhance the iPhone camera’s normal field of view. The experience allows for much more intuitive controls familiar to touchscreen users and seems to make a lot more sense for immersive virtual reality than a controller or buttons used by other headsets.
All the apps currently running on Pinć were built by the company, but it plans on releasing an SDK that will offer devs a toolset for building mobile apps that support Pinć and utilize the company’s 3D user interfaces.
While the company is focusing on all casual, mobile app user interfaces rather than gaming like the Oculus Rift or other competitors, a big focus for Pinć is retail. The company plans to build its own virtual reality shopping mall that will allow users to shop at various retailers with a full on virtual reality experience for browsing, customizing and purchasing items. Pinć provided the following screenshots of what the shopping experience might look like when the product ships next year:
So far early prototypes of Pinć leave a little bit to be desired in terms of fit and finish, and the tech demo, which wasn’t yet running on Unity, was a little too early and buggy for me to pass judgement. I was able to wear an early prototype and navigate the UI pictured above, although the product I tried was far from finished (a 3D printed prototype actually) and the software was not up to snuff in terms of what’s promised in the videos as far as fluidity and ease of use. The company does, however, seem to be pretty confident that its latest build of the software running on Unity and tweaks to hardware in the coming months will bring the experience up to speed and ready to launch for devs and early adopters by spring of next year.
While the version I demoed in the video above is still in prototype mode, you can expect a finished product to look closer to renders the company provided below:
When it comes to hardware Pinć is certainly not the first accessory attempting to bring an Oculus Rift-style VR experience to mobile devices— Google recently launched its Cardboard experiment, Samsung has Gear VR for its Note 4, and other companies have similar products that utilize the iPhone’s display— but Pinć’s software, integration into a standard-looking iPhone case, and gesture based input system make it one of the most promising implementations I’ve tried yet.