It has been a good week for Boise virtual-reality headset developer IonVR.
Its founders, spouses Brooke Linville and Dan Thurber, showed off their headset at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, Linville and Thurber announced a partnership with Intel Technology.
Thurber developed the mobile headset, which allows users to plug in their smart phone or tablet and strap into immersive games or other virtual-reality applications. He works at IonVR’s headquarters: the couple’s East Boise home.
Landing a partner like Intel, which reported nearly $56 billion in sales in 2015, proves the startup is viable, Linville said.
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“For us, this is one more step in recognizing the work and innovation that the IonVR team has done to make mobile virtual reality a quality experience for everybody,” she said.
The three-day CES started Wednesday, when IonVR and Intel announced that their teams collaborated so IonVR’s headset — which is expected to be released in the next few months — is compatible with Intel’s RealSense Smartphone Developer Kit.
The smartphone’s advanced camera will enable users to access “mixed reality” games and applications: Their hands will appear in the virtual world and be able to interact with objects there, opening doors for gameplay or functional applications. Because the headset is wireless, users will be able to move in any direction to move through the virtual world.
Hundreds of companies are racing to be leaders in the virtual reality market, already antsy for the release of Facebook’s desktop virtual-reality console Oculus Rift, which is scheduled to ship in March for $599.
They are first to be untethered. It’s very exciting for us as we focus on training and simulation environments. It’s a big leap forward.
DTX Creative Sales and Programs Manager Jennifer Lastra
Boise graphics and marketing company DTX Creative is launching a virtual-reality content company, 360 Immersive, this month. Jennifer Lastra, DTX Creative sales and programs manager, said the company had already planned to develop virtual-reality training programs making use of mixed reality before hearing about the IonVR-Intel partnership that may make it possible.
IonVR has yet to ship a unit or generate revenue, but Lastra said the partnership with Intel proves the startup is already beating larger companies in the race for market share.
“Intel would not be partnering with IonVR if their technology wasn’t proven, if they didn’t have a clear-cut, measurable and maybe even scientific approach,” Lastra said. “They’ve arrived on the scene.”
This allows you to squat down, or go on tiptoes, or shuffle left or right, or move forward or back. The image you are seeing translates with you. It gives you so much more than you currently have with today’s technology.
DTX Creative owner David Cleverdon
IonVR is a member of Trailhead, the new Boise nonprofit that provides experts and resources to help member startups grow. Executive Director Raino Zoller said the Intel partnership makes IonVR attractive to the kinds of people the company needs to grow.
“First, the partnership makes IonVR more attractive to investors,” Zoller said. “Second, it makes people aware of what they’re doing. If IonVR is tied to Intel, it will help to bring in developers who want to be involved.”
IonVR has accepted more than 1,000 pre-orders at $229 apiece on its website, Linville said. The company aims to ship units by March or April and is talking with retailers about carrying the headsets, she said.
“We’ll fill pre-orders first, because those are the people who believed in us from the beginning,” Linville said. “We’re also looking at what our distribution channels will be.”