Augmented Reality is like VR's fraternal twin, delivering awesome experiences, while not removing you completely from the real world in the process. While Microsoft has busted onto the scene with the top of the line Hololens, and a variety of headsets with Windows Mixed Reality, finding a good headset to get started with AR on can be problematic.
That's where Aryzon's awesome Cardboard AR Kit comes in. It delivers a low budget way to check out AR, all with a cardboard headset that runs off of your phone. Whether you've never tried AR at all, or you want to see what mobile AR is capable of, this headset is full of surprises. While it is a bit clunky, and not terrible comfortable to wear, it delivers fun games that let you stay aware of the world you're in while you play.
Look and Feel
Let's be honest, you aren't going to swoon over the way this headset looks when sitting down, or how it feels when you are wearing it. Entirely cardboard, save for the straps, and the lenses inside of the headset, this is meant to be an introduction to AR, and to that end it works pretty well.
When you initially open the up the kit, you'll build it yourself. There are directions from within the Aryzon app, but it definitely has a weird sort of angular look to it. There are two different straps that will let you wear it while checking out AR, which already puts it ahead of the original Cardboard VR viewers.
Your phone slots into the front of the headset, into a flap that gets secured into place via velcro. Happily, this headset is compatible with both Android and iOS phones, meaning that just about everyone can enjoy it.
Experiences built into the app
In order to take advantage of the AR experiences that the Cardboard kit has in store with you, the first thing you're going to need to do is download and install the Aryzon app. It's available in the Play Store, or App Store, depending on your platform. Once it's installed you'll find three different apps available for you to check out, but all three require one of the discs that came with your headset.
Unlike VR, AR apps don't take up your entire screen. You'll still be able to see the room around you when playing these games. You'll always see a pointer in the middle of your screen, but until you look at the correct disc, you won't see anything more than that. Once you do look at the disc though, your AR experience of choice will pop up in front of you.
One of the biggest issues I ran into was trying to find a decent fit while wearing my glasses.
The Aryzon app has a flying game, a mini ball game, and a frogger-esque game that has you avoiding sushi while crossing the road. All of them have you move and play by moving your headset, but if you move too far and your pointer falls off the edge of the disc, then the AR will abruptly stop. This means you're going to want to be careful and put the disc on a nearby surface like a table.
One of the biggest issues that I ran into is an issue I have with a lot of different headsets. Trying to find a decent fit, while wearing my glasses. There are four small fold-over flaps that have a small foam insert on them. These are what protect your face from the cardboard while wearing the viewer, but they don't feel particularly comfortable at any time. I had issues with my glasses slipping and getting caught on cardboard while trying to get situated. Taking off my glasses gave me double vision when trying to play, so my only option was to deal with the discomfort with my glasses on.
While the AR Cardboard Headset did feel kind of clunky on my face, once I had gotten the initial fit, it stayed in place really well. It was never exactly comfortable, but by the same yardstick, it wasn't too heavy and didn't leave me with weird marks on my face like some VR headsets have done over the years. It was also sturdy enough that I was never worried that my phone was going to tumble out and land on the floor if I moved too suddenly.
While the experiences weren't mind blowing, they are a great way to experience AR without opting in for a pricier headset. I also had way more fun playing Sushi Frogger than I thought I would initially. Going back to a pointer only display was a bit weird after months of controller-based VR, but once I readjusted I had fun with everything this headset had to offer.
Probably worth your money
Aryzon's Cardboard AR Kit is available for about $35 which makes it the most affordable way to check out AR by a huge margin. You just have to remember that you are getting what you pay for.
The headset is entirely made out of cardboard, while it does have straps to wear it, and velcro closures to ensure your phone is held securely, this is not a top of the line device. That being said, it is a great way to check out whether AR is something you want to invest more money in, or if you just want to see what AR can do.
Are you convinced?
Aryzon's Cardboard AR Kit delivers a great, low-cost way, to check out AR and see whether it's as fascinating as you'd hoped it would be. Since Windows Mixed Reality is out of the budget for many folks, this is a great place to start before exploring everything AR can offer. So are you interested? Will you be checking it out? Let us know about it in the comments below!