Singaporean startup CLOVR has a plan to address the complete lack of VR content for today’s gamers. Create an app that will run any PC game in VR mode. What’s more is that the solution is designed to work with smartphones; removing the need to invest in expensive VR headsets.
The idea comes in two parts. One side the PC app that is effectively a remote play option. Allowing the computer to do all the heavy processing, and then transmitting video over to the paired smartphone. The other side is a mobile app that projects the rendered graphics in stereoscopic video. The only thing that gamers really need to buy is one of those low cost VR headset docks for their phones.
It helps to think of the whole setup as something similar to the PlayStation Remote Play option. Where the game can be streamed to a nearby smartphone over WiFi.
Of course, there are some limitations to the system at the moment. The CLOVR system isn’t exactly true virtual reality. Instead, it simply uses the phone as a head mounted display; and also retasks the gyroscope to move the mouse cursor. Which means that movement is still bound to the same X and Y axis; and doesn’t quite allow full freedom of movement.
There’s also a certain amount of input lag. Which isn’t entirely surprising. Most game streaming services suffer from this problem, although it is somewhat more noticeable in newer first person shooters.
Despite all this, the system feels far more polished than one would expect. The 60 fps frame rate didn’t create any motion sickness; despite the fact that most VR companies claiming that there needs to be a minimum of 90 fps to be comfortable. Overall, doesn’t feel much worse than using a HTC Vive or PS VR.
Hardware requirements are irrelevant for CLOVR; seeing that most of the workload happens on the PC. Of course, this means that the user needs a rather powerful machine to run games like Doom (which we noted struggled with frameskipping on the demo laptop with a GTX 1060). On the other hand, the games were demoed using a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3; which means that there is a minimal demand on the mobile hardware.
CLOVR is eventually meant to be more than a gaming product. The Malaysian-based team behind it plans to release a developer API for the system at the end of the year; allowing more content to be brought to the platform. The ultimate goal is to also use it for enterprise and education developers to reach more people.
Despite being an app, CLOVR will not be free to use. The developer is looking towards a minimal subscription fee of USD 0.99 a month.
The Kickstarter campaign for the product is set to go live on 6 March; where the company hopes to raise some SGD 5,000 for the initial release. Backers of the campaign will receive get to try CLOVR in June, about a month before the early access date begins. A full launch will follow in September.