iPhone-based VR Arcade Passes Kickstarter Goal

by Ian Hamilton • March 13th, 2019

A Kickstarter project promising VR arcades powered by iPhones surpassed its funding goal.

The project based in St. Louis, Missouri, was launched on March 4 and ends on April 3. About 49 backers — most of them backing their first project — recently pushed the effort past its $5,000 funding goal.

A PR person contacted us to tell us about the project. We viewed the project page and, in response, put a few questions to the representative.

The company is called HoloRealm VR and uses iPhone 8+ for rendering and Apple’s ARKit for tracking. The emailed response says they use “additional sensors” in the headset to enhance positional tracking accuracy.

“Our technology provides for highly accurate player tracking for indoor areas of up to 30′ x 30′,” the email states.  “This partially depends on area lighting and the number of tracking posters we use.”

We’ve seen a number of technical arrangements for VR arcades but this is the first one we’ve seen which centered around Apple’s iPhone. The Alien attraction I viewed in Orange County, California used Android phones and “outside-in” OptiTrack tracking. HoloRealm is pitching something with fewer hardware requirements and a Web-based management system for partners. The Kickstarter page for the project says they are opening up their first arcade in the coming weeks.

Kickstarter Risks

I haven’t tried the system and — even based on the footage included — the experience clearly won’t match what’s possible with higher end equipment.

There is also the cost of the system to consider. An iPhone 8+ is around $700 new from Apple while the upcoming Oculus Quest is $400 per headset.

Though Facebook’s new standalone system isn’t out yet, we tried it in an arcade setting last year and it provided an impressive experience overall.

A custom iPhone holder and ARKit-based VR headset is certainly an intriguing prospect. As mentioned above, though, we haven’t tried the system. I can’t speak to its quality or the likelihood that this Kickstarter project will follow through on delivering its goals.

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