Industry Updates

Interview: Merge VR Co-Founder Andrew Trickett

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Merge VR and Moonshot

It’s comfortable, it’s fashionable, it’s purple. It’s the Merge VR Goggles by, you guessed it, Merge VR. Many of our readers may already be familiar with this great Google Cardboard compatible headset which stands, in this writer’s opinion, as one of the better mobile headsets out there for viewing Cardboard experiences. Kelly Rada of Andoscia Communications contacted me recently with an opportunity to cover a new press release from Merge VR concerning their upcoming hand controller currently being called Moonshot.

I was offered the chance to interview the founders of Merge VR concerning the Moonshot controller, the Merge VR headset, and other VR topics. Of course, I jumped at the chance and you can see the full interview in the video above. Andrew Trickett, Kelly Rada, and I had a great conversation so I hope you enjoy it. Please note: Mr. Trickett had some issues with his wireless connection which caused a drop at one point (where I talked with Kelly for a moment about VR and advertising) and a couple of other video issues. We tried to work through it.

Merge VR Goggles Details

For those of you who can’t watch the video right this moment, I wanted to cover some of the basics of the headset and information I gained in speaking with Mr. Trickett. Merge VR launched their headset last year in November. I first heard about them at a South by Southwest conference. I was able to try these for the first time this summer and I was impressed. If you have used the actual cardboard versions of Google Cardboard viewers then you know how uncomfortable they can be and how they can often lead to a poor VR experience. A bad VR experience, especially if it’s your first one, can really sour a person on virtual reality and that is why headsets like the Merge VR are important.

The headset is compatible with almost any phone that can run Cardboard; unlike mobile headsets like the Daydream View or Gear VR which are locked to certain phones. Right now it’s also selling for a great price. Through the end of the year you can grab the Merge VR headset for $59.99. You can buy them direct, through Best Buy (where you can also find a Gray version exclusive to that store), Amazon and other retailers. They are launching to even more countries overseas which you can hear about in the video.

The Merge VR 360 viewer. The black and gray is a Best Buy exclusive.

The Merge VR 360 viewer. The black and gray is a Best Buy exclusive.

Before I go further I want to offer full disclosure. While I have used a friend’s headset in the past, Merge VR did send me a headset for the purposes of this review and interview. The Merge VR goggles offer a very sharp image. Knobs on the top and bottom allows each viewer to change the lens distance to suit them. Both knobs on the top also double as input/selection buttons for VR experiences. Made from a durable foam, it’s very comfortable.

Unlike some VR headsets it also has a top strap which can greatly help distribute the weight from heavier phones. The strap can be removed if you prefer not to use it. The headset allows for access to your earphone jack; and a piece of foam on the front can be removed to allow apps access to use your camera. Those are the basics. It’s a really great headset for Cardboard applications and I recommend it.

Moonshot: A Universal Controller for Mobile VR

The other part of our interview covered what Merge VR is calling “the first universal motion controller for mobile VR” or Moonshot for short. To read the entire press release, follow the link above. Unfortunately, Merge VR did not have any review hardware for me to try. I was also unable to make it to the Bay Area; so this will be a quick preview. All that I know about the Moonshot you can know too by watching the interview and the video below. If you are a developer you can sign up to work with Merge VR and Moonshot now. Follow the link above to find out more. Mr. Trickett did tell me that many developers have signed up already. Moonshot has a plugin for Unity only at the moment. As Mr. Trickett explains, Unity does the lions-share of mobile development at the moment.

The Moonshot is compatible with high end headsets as well such as the Oculus Rift. However, Mr. Trickett points out that this is not the focus of Moonshot. It’s most likely use with headsets on the PC will be with WebVR. WebVR is a growing section of the VR community. Most major browsers supporting it or working on support for it. It’s compatible with the Gear VR also which could be a great market for it. The Gear does not have a motion controller of it’s own like the Daydream View does.

Conclusion

Merge VR has won recognition for their work and I thought it fitting to share this to show how Merge VR has helped to drive the mobile VR industry. This is from a recent press release sent to me by Ms. Rada. Congratulations to Merge VR on these successes.

Merge’s commitment to making virtual reality safe and accessible for everyone, particularly the youngest VR explorers, has resulted in recognition by trusted organizations including:

  • Parent Tested, Parent Approved – awarded the PTPA Seal of Approval
  • Consumer Reports – featured as an Expert Pick in the Holiday Gift Guide
  • CNN.com – highlighted as the best option for Big Kids and Tweens
  • The TASTE Awards – honored Merge VR in the Innovative Technology category

 “Our goal from the very beginning has been to make VR simple, accessible, fun, and safe for the whole family,” said Merge Founder Franklin Lyons. “And we design all of our products with that in mind.”

I want to thank Mr. Trickett for taking the time to speak with me about his company and products. As he points out in the video, Merge VR is a virtual reality company, not just the purple headset company. They are looking beyond Moonshot and their goggles towards the software side of VR. We can look forward to some big announcements early next year. Make sure to check out the video for the most in depth information. Thanks for taking a look. In the market for a Cardboard headset? Consider grabbing the Merge VR headset while its on sale.

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