For the last few years, companies like Oculus, HTC and even Samsung (among many others) have been hyping the world up for virtual reality. Virtual reality has always been the dream – it’s been used in sci-fi movies like The Matrix and eXistenZ. With release dates repeatedly getting pushed back, and goals of decent VR feeling unobtainable, Oculus hit gamers straight in the face with a pricepoint of $599 USD. To add insult to injury, the PC requirements for making your PC VR-ready were considered unreasonable, and in some cases, insane [financially]. The Vive requires a NVIDIA GTX970, which today is still a $250 graphics card, and the Rift needs a $200 touch controller (putting you at $800 alone if your PC is VR ready). Nothing is cross-compatible, and all accessories are product-specific.
Finch Shift is changing this and hoping to do so for the better. With the Shift controllers (which will retail somewhere between $149-249USD), you slide the armbands on, put on the VR headset of your choice, and game on. The headset I used to test seemed to be some type of universal headset. I was told it will fit any modern smartphone, and the games within their app (on Android and iOS) will work with any smartphone, so long it has a gyroscope. If you’ve purchased your smartphone within the last two or three years, you most likely have a gyroscope in your device.
What makes the Shift great is the ability to stream Oculus and Vive games from your computer to the headset and controllers. While you may still have to upgrade your GPU, Shift will allow you to stream these games and save a good grip of cash. If you’re looking to develop a game for VR, you can apply for Finch’s SDK/API through their website. The controllers are ergonomically friendly, and easy to figure out. If wearing armbands turns you off to it, don’t knock it until you try it — they’re actually very lightweight and you’ll quickly forget you have them on.
Finch will be launching a Kickstarter later this year around April, but is planning to begin consumer production regardless of whether or not the crowdfunding campaign is successful. To save cash, give indie developers the chance to get their feet wet with VR and even be able to play multiplayer games “cross-platform” (one person can be wearing Google cardboard, and the other Samsung Gear, for example), Shift may be the solution for giving everyone a chance at enjoying virtual reality.