In the not too distant future, virtual and augmented reality will be much more than just a gaming environment for early-adopters — people will use it for work, socializing, studying, working out, getting medical check-ups and many other applications we can’t even imagine yet. The AR/VR/MR industry is gaining momentum, yet still in the process of figuring out its opportunities. One thing is already clear, though: an average AR/VR user will spend a lot of time wearing a smart headset. Hence it should go beyond being technically advanced — and become comfortable. In fact, almost unnoticeable.
But let’s hold that thought till the technology catches up, for now our challenge was to create an extremely comfortable headset. While our client, California-based Occipital, was developing disruptive AR/VR technology, we started creating a perfect form factor to accommodate it.
Nekuda DM is a longtime expert in placing technology on people’s heads. We have proven expertise, our own anthropometric database of human heads and, more importantly, understanding how to integrate all these exciting optics and electronics into an ergonomic consumer product. And when it comes to ergonomics of a headset, size, weight and center-of-gravity (CoG) are the key characteristics to watch over.
So naturally, our first move was to alleviate unnecessary weight and make Bridge feels as light and balanced as possible. The heaviest component of the headset is a user’s iPhone in the front, which meant we had to put an additional counterweight in the right place — to improve CoG and provide neck relief (note to ourselves: fight any additions to the front to keep the back lighter).
Another big issue with VR is how much a user’s eyes work: for a brain to maintain a sense of presence in virtual reality, eyes should be positioned, as part of the optics system, at a specific distance from optics focal point. This part is critical for the success of any VR product. Plus, wearable devices that contact with skin should be made from the right type of materials that suit all skin types and provide heat dissipation. For Bridge we used soft plastic elastomers, closed- and open-celled foam padding, velcro straps, etc.
To create the most comfortable VR experience on the market, we had to refine and align every single part of the headset: an easy-to-put and adjustable head mount for a good grip, straps that help distribute the weight, a mask that fits in a variety of noses and provides adequate ventilation.
Finally, when the framing and configuration phases were finished, we delved into designing. Since the Bridge is the first VR headset specifically built for iPhone, we wanted to reflect Apple’s minimalist aesthetic in our design: clean yet intelligent. And, of course, white.