Last month, we brought you a story about Spectacle: the augmented reality application for Samsung Gear VR that applies Instagram like filters in real time over your everyday life. The app looked very promising and had us all looking forward to the day that it would officially launch and bring AR capabilities to this traditionally VR focused device. That day has come and Spectacle is now available for download and immediate use on you Gear VR compatible Android phone.
Spectacle costs $0.99 per download and hosts a litany of interesting features to make that minor purchase feel exceedingly worthwhile.
The app combines your phones rear camera with the VR display abilities of the Gear VR to overlay interesting visual effects onto the world surrounding you. These filters come in many different varieties and trying out each one is half the fun of the experience.
What also makes Spectacle such an intriguing experience is its use of gesture controls. Most GearVR apps employ the device’s integrated touchpad as their primary method of interface. Spectacle, however, also allows you to simply swipe your hand in front of your face to change your filter, or “whipe” your hand and clear the screen all together.
These controls are somewhat revolutionary in an age where the VR industry is captivated by the possibility of hand tracked controllers. The two high-end headsets on the market right now, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are primarily divided by the latter’s inclusion of tracked controllers and the former’s omission of the same. This key difference is drawing clear lines between fans of each system, at least until Oculus begins shipping its own Touch Controls later this year.
If a simple application like Spectacle is able to pull off gesture controls – without the use of a more powerful peripheral such as Leap Motion – than perhaps in the near future these much lauded hand tracked controllers will not only be removed as a point of differentiation between systems, but rendered obsolete all together.