VR, once the domain of dime-store novels and sci-fi movies, is now a feasible product for consumers. As such, it stands to reason that a horn-o’-plenty of virtual reality experiences from startups the world over would pop up. One such experience is the Pinc, a device from Toronto’s Cordon Development Labs designed to turn your iPhone into a portable VR viewer.
The Pinc (pronounced “pinch”), brainchild of Cordon president Milan Baic, works by attaching itself to the iPhone through an eye-catching 3D-printed case. The wearer attaches the encased iPhone to their head with head straps; viewing is done through a set of aspheric lenses suspended an inch and a half away from the iPhone, projecting a landscape rendered in stereoscopic 3D by the Pinc app. Movement is performed with LED “rings” attached to the wearer’s index fingers.
Baic is quick to differentiate Pinc from the gaming-centric Oculus Rift, stating that Pinc’s primary focus will be e-commerce. “Control, portability, and use case” are the Pinc’s three key strengths, he says, seeing virtual reality as a solution for mobile retailers burdened by difficulties conducting business on small smartphone screens.
Cordon still has a few kinks to work out with Pinc’s hardware and software. Their camera plus LED control system, though novel, encounters problems when the wearer enters a bright real-life environment, leaving them more or less confined to the Pinc’s ideal darkened room. Baic claims that production-ready LEDs will be brighter and wrap their way around the circumference of the wearer’s finger, permitting on-the-go shopping no matter what real-life conditions happen to be.
Time will tell whether Pinc is able to fully realize its goal of transforming shopping into the same kind of immersive digital experience Oculus is attempting for gaming or Jaunt is attempting for concerts. It’s all about generating revenue and attracting a user base for Baic; an Indiegogo campaign launched today, with plans to attract big brands like Nike by ushering them into a “virtual shopping mall” and invoicing them for space equivalent to what they would occupy in a real-life shopping center. “There is something to say about scarcity [ . . . ] Unlimited space is a good thing when you want to create something, but when you are in a commercial environment, you want to create the concept of scarcity.”