Brian May launches low-cost VR viewer

A new virtual reality (VR) viewer that works with any smartphone is set to go on sale from mid-June, priced at £25.

The OWL Virtual Reality Kit was designed by Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May. Although the device costs £10 more than Google’s Cardboard headset, it is made out of sturdier “high-grade polypropylene” and has the benefit of being quickly collapsible, Fortune reports.

The plastic gadget takes just seconds to assemble. It has a pair of optical lenses at one end and a magnetic plate at the other, where the smartphone is held in place. Users can adjust the focus to suit their preferred viewing angle.

May has been a director of the London Stereoscopic Company since 2008 and the company has been supplying his original OWL Stereo Viewer to 3D enthusiasts since 2009, enabling users to view classic Victorian stereo cards and recently released astronomy and Queen-focused 3D images.

The OWL Virtual Reality Kit is adapted from the existing OWL Stereo Viewer, enabling its use with a smartphone to view online 3D images, as well as those taken by the user, and commercially available VR content.

According to the company, the new device has advantages over other VR devices because it is not tied to just one particular make or model of phone and it offers full access to the controls on the phone at all times. Access to the headphone socket is also unobstructed.

Commenting on the launch, Brian May said: “Virtual Reality has taken the consumer electronics world by storm over recent months and masses of content is now rapidly becoming available. However, until now, users have had the choice of an expensive VR viewer that puts it out of reach of many people or a very low cost alternative that just doesn’t do the format justice.

“The OWL Virtual Reality Kit changes all that; for a very modest outlay, anyone can now enjoy the VR experience, and also gain access to the fascinating world of stereoscopy.”

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