Breaking into VR development doesn’t need to break the bank. If you have a newer Android phone and a good gaming computer, it’s possible to prototype, test, and share your VR projects with the world using third-party software like RiftCat’s VRidge. In this post, we’ll take a look at what you’ll need to get started with PC VR development for less than $100.

Your VR Prototyping Kit

How it Works

VRidge is software that streams PC VR experiences to your phone via wifi. At the same time, it uses your phone’s internal gyros to provide the head tracking. This transforms your phone into a VR headset screen, simulating devices like the HTC Vive.

Since VRidge and our Unity Core Assets both take advantage of OpenVR, it’s possible for you to build and test your project using this minimal setup. The VR community is also using VRidge to play with experiences that would otherwise be unavailable – like Blocks:

Get your head into virtual reality – it's the only way to prototype. Click To TweetPros

  • Quick, affordable VR. Though in all honesty, you’ll probably get the itch to upgrade as soon as you can. (See Cons.)
  • Rapid prototyping. It’s nearly impossible to build a decent VR experience without being able to dive into it. That’s why we’re recommending this as a prototyping approach to developers who don’t have access to full headsets.

Cons

  • No positional tracking. This limits immersion, but mobile VR headset users will already be familiar with this. (Though there are hacks with other hardware that can provide positional tracking – see Chop’s post in the comments section!)
  • Additional latency. The experience within the headset will be at least a couple of frames behind what you would experience on the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. You will “feel” the latency in ways that you wouldn’t on a full setup.
  • Higher odds of sim sickness. If you’re sensitive to motion sickness, the added latency may cause you to feel uncomfortable. Bear in mind that this can really ruin someone’s day! This is not a setup for public demos.

Getting Started

1. Setup your Google Cardboard with Leap Motion Controller. Attach the VR Developer Mount to the headset using the included adhesives. Once the Leap Motion Controller is properly mounted, use the USB extender to plug the controller into your computer.

2. Install and setup VRidge. See the full guide here or watch this video:

3. Install and setup SteamVR. See the full guide here or watch this video:

4. Install the Leap Motion Orion software.

5. Download and run Blocks through VRidge. If your setup is working properly, you should be able to play with Blocks in the headset.

6. Download the Unity Core Assets and Modules. You’re ready to build an incredible experience with your VR prototyping kit. Learn more about how the different Modules work in this blog post. When your project is ready, we’d love to feature it on our Developer Gallery.

Whether you have a small hardware budget or a cutting-edge setup, the future of VR is being built by indie developers just like you. The Leap Motion VR Developer Bundle is on sale until Saturday, September 10th – get yours now and build what inspires you.

Alex is the head writer and blog editor at Leap Motion, where he stands as the final bulwark against bad grammar. Want to share your Leap Motion project? Email acolgan@leapmotion.com or PM leapmotion_alex on Reddit.

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