Mobile VR provides a great low cost entry into virtual reality using the smartphone in your pocket. With inexpensive Google Cardboard inspired designs (Generally $5-$20) and more finished designs made from plastic and other materials you can get your first taste of VR while we wait for the first consumer devices to come from Oculus, HTC Vive, OSVR and others. The only major drawback to these devices is that you are required to hold the HMD up to your face, something that becomes tiring and awkward pretty quickly. Some companies offer basic head straps but all these do is push the unfinished cardboard or plastic edge into your face and generally cut across your ears providing a less than comfortable experience.
Come in Hand Free Headgear with a solution. The device fits over your head with support over the top of your head and back of your head, suspending the HMD in front of your face. The straps over your head and behind are fully adjustable to give anyone a good fit. (I have a pretty large head and could have gone much larger with the adjustments) Your HMD connects to the hands free headgear with 3M Dual Lock tape (a kind of industrial velcro) letting you snap it where it is most comfortable for you.
I have had the Google Cardboard V2.0 version for close to a week now and I absolutely love it. I takes a little fiddling to get the best fit but once you do you can just leave your headset locked in place and slip the device on a quick as easy as a baseball cap. I Interviewed Neal Nelson, creator of the Hands Free Headgear about his background and what inspired him to create the device.
RoblemVR: What is your background and what got you into Virtual Reality?
Neal Nelson: I am a mature computer consultant (BS Industrial Supervision Purdue 1970, independent computer consultant since 1973, Fortran, punched cards, etc.). I still read the computer news and when I saw a notice that Google Cardboard had 500,000 downloads I bought one.
RoblemVR: How did you come up with the HFH concept and what made you want to develop it into a finished product?
Neal Nelson: After watching the Cardboard demo I wanted to use the viewer to watch a 3D movie but I would not want to hold the classic Cardboard viewer up with my hands for 90 minutes.
My background at Purdue quickly led me to conclude that head straps were not the answer (and definitely not the answer for Cardboard with sharp edges being pulled into the cheeks).
What was needed was a little cantilever truss support system that would support the viewer in front of the face rather than a set of elastic straps that were pulling it into the face. So I created the HFHeadgear. I think it is a good solution and I want to share it.
RoblemVR: Why have you decided to support the Google Cardboard and related viewers rather than do something with other VR projects?
Neal Nelson: I think there is a need and a potential market, particularly for the Cardboard viewer since the cell phone has an internal battery and it is positioned way forward, which creates a force vector and lever effect against the cheeks. Also, now with over 1,000,000 Cardboard downloads it is by far the biggest potential market.
I think the design does apply to other viewers but those companies seem to be busy with in house solutions so I an approaching the Cardboard marker first.
RoblemVR: Any plans to introducing color, logos or other options in the future?
Neal Nelson: I can certainly do that. The head straps will be white for a while (until I can justify a custom run of plastic components) but I can paint the metal any color I want (I currently have a test unit in black). I would welcome any thoughts on what color(s) I should offer.
RoblemVR: What else might we see from you in the future and what else are you working on?
Neal Nelson: The next thing from me will be a tutorial on how to download or stream a full length film from DVD or Blu-ray to a Cardboard viewer. I want to watch a 3D film via Cardboard with my hands free to eat popcorn and drink Dr. Pepper during the show.
RoblemVR: Thanks much
Neal Nelson: No, Thank you
So if you are into Mobile VR and want to go hands free I highly recommend you check out the Hands Free Headgear. Check out the models and supported devices on his website http://hfheadgear.com/ and Follow Hands Free Headgear on Twitter @HFHeadgear