Carl Zeiss has just recently announced the VR One virtual reality headset for use with iOS and Android smartphones. While it still feels like a bit of stretch to get people to put these things on their heads, the typically steep price point of early contenders does’t help. The VR One is a similar premise to what we are seeing from Samsung’s Gear VR headset, but at a seemingly much more affordable price tag.

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VR tech relies in part on optics technology, something the Carl Zeiss company is more than familiar with. “45 years ago the Apollo 11 crew took a ZEISS lense to the moon. Today, we will take all of you to the moon – virtually,” a recent post on the company’s official Tumblr reads.

VR One is essentially a head mounted view finder designed for experiencing virtual reality content playing back from a smartphone. It is compatible with devices between 4.7 and 5.2 inches using a small compartment (drawer) designed to house an iPhone or Android device. VR One only supports iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5 at the moment, but unlike the Galaxy Note 4 tethered Gear VR headset, it will likely work with quite an extensive list of smartphones down the line. As you can likely already tell by the size limitations, larger smartphones like iPhone 6 Plus and the oversized Samsung options are not supported.

Zeiss has designed the VR One to be an open platform with its own SDK for iOS and Android. As of right now, the actual VR software available for the platform is fairly limited, with two prototype-style VR apps in the works at Zeiss. Like most virtual reality offerings, Zeiss is relying on the open development community to create intriguing software experiences for the headset. The company is planning a competition that will run on its Tumblr page in hopes to spur developer support.

Carl Ziess products are no stranger to the world of smartphones either. It previously teamed up with Sony to offer the WiFi enabled DSC-QX100 lens attachment kit for iPhone and Android devices, and was previously responsible for built-in optics technology for various manufacturers.

While it certainly isn’t as affordable as Dodocase’s $25 cardboard VR headset, VR One comes in at half the price of the expected Samsung Gear VR listing. It is available now for pre-order at $99.99 shipped. For those who have multiple devices, additional drawers/compartments are available for $9.90 each

More from Zeiss:

Imagine a world without limitations. What would you create there? And how would your vision change our reality?

We are experts in optics. What drives us is expanding human perception. From the nano to macro worlds, we have continually opened up new horizons – to enable others to change the world and see differently.

What is our next challenge? What new world can we enable for explorers and pioneers? The virtual – of course. With a product that opens the doors to another world. Very simple and system-independent with our VR ONE and a smartphone.

The hardware works. But where does it lead to? A world that is as yet undescribed. And here too, our goal is to enable others to create this world. You. Designers, engineers, artists, developers, scientists, architects, visionaries, experts – users. What potential is hidden in the virtual world? What would you design within it? How will these visions change our material world?

Virtual reality has no limits. And we all have the unique opportunity to participate in shaping this new world. Let’s get started!

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