[*] if by “everything”, you mean how big the box is.
We’ve been working away on improvements to our ZapBox product, both in terms of the app and the physical ZapBox “cardware” kits. For those not in the know, ZapBox is our solution to make immersive Mixed Reality experiences accessible and affordable for everyone.
ZapBox was originally made possible thanks to the support of our thousands of backers on Kickstarter. We posted an update to Kickstarter last week to share our future plans for ZapBox, but we thought the news was exciting enough that we should post it over here on the Zappar blog too.
If you’ve already read the Kickstarter update you can skip this one as it doesn’t contain any new information. If not then read on and allow me to take you through all of our exciting plans for the future of ZapBox!
ZapBox app version 2.0
Firstly, there is an app update that we expect to be live in the app stores this week.
This is the culmination of almost a year of behind-the-scenes work and we’re so excited to finally be bringing it to you all. Here are the highlights of the ZapBox app, version 2.0:
- We’ve completely rethought how tracking the world map is implemented, and prioritized smoothness of tracking. Say goodbye to your content ‘jumping’ when you cover up some of your world pointcodes!
- The triggers on the controllers can now be detected and tracked by the app, and are no longer just another one of those Kickstarter fidgety things!
- There’s some awesome new content (and a new launch menu that we can update on-the-fly without needing app updates) - check out the winning entry from our Christmas Hackathon, ZapBox Pop!
- Much improved calibration and map building flows. You can also separately calibrate the camera both with and without a fish-eye lens!
- Full iPhone X support!
- We’ve updated the underlying Zappar platform bringing exciting new features such as dynamic lighting!
- I’m sure there’s more but I’ve exhausted my exclamation mark quota!
Here’s a really nice video showing the much smoother world tracking, trigger support, and dynamic lighting all coming together to deliver something which is super awesome. We’ll link this experience in the new launch menu too, so you can try it out for yourselves.
This is so much fun!
ZapBox “Cardware” 2.0
ZapBox was brought to life by all of our lovely Kickstarter backers, and ZapBox 1.0 was our first attempt at making a physical product. Overall we’re pretty happy with how it all turned out, and the final product we delivered was a big step forward from the early prototypes we were using in the Kickstarter campaign page and video.
Although we were really proud of what we delivered with 1.0, it was not the perfect product. The major flaw with the initial design was that we prioritized the “prebuilt, ready-to-go” aspect of the unboxing experience without considering the impact on the shipping cost. In hindsight, it’s obvious that price is a key differentiator for ZapBox, and we should definitely have given more weight to the impact on shipping cost when making those design decisions.
So allow us to proudly present the next iteration of the ZapBox Cardware, ZapBox 2.0!
ZapBox 2.0 - More awesome. Less weight, size, and shipping cost!
So what’s different, and what’s stayed the same?
The key components of the kit haven’t changed - there is still a headset with head strap, the same fish-eye lens adapter as 1.0, a set of world pointcodes, and two controllers with triggers. When in use the set is equivalent to the original ZapBox kits, and all ZapBox content and app updates will be 100% compatible with both versions of the cardware.
The big change is obviously the new packaging format. ZapBox 2.0 is roughly half the weight and one-eighth of the volume of the 1.0 design. That’s going to mean much cheaper shipping (we can’t say exactly how much cheaper right now, as this time we’re actually going to work it out before setting the shipping cost…). The new format is also much easier to deliver as it can be posted straight through a letterbox, and is more suitable for bulk orders, direct mail, exhibitions, events, and education - all of which are great opportunities for ZapBox that the 2.0 design will really help with.
The controllers come with the complex trigger mechanism part pre-assembled but the rest of the parts are flat-packed into sheets. We think they actually look awesome like that - huge props to Steven and Petra for leading the charge on the design work. Putting the controllers together is actually really fun too! No glue is required to construct the controllers, it’s all just popping out the elements and folding them into place. Check out the construction video below.
Unboxing ZapBox 2.0
Design-wise with the controllers we have made a few tweaks to fix some issues we have seen in some of our 1.0 kits. The trigger has been re-designed to avoid the glue coming unstuck along the front, and the collar mechanism has been adjusted to give a smoother and straighter motion. The “diamond” on the controller now has flaps to fold all the top sides together, giving a stronger shape that won’t pop out during use. All nice tweaks that we were able to make to the design whilst keeping 100% compatibility with ZapBox 1.0 kits.
The headset has undergone a few design tweaks to accommodate the flat-pack design and now features the larger lenses typically used with current Google Cardboard devices. The camera cut-out is also slightly larger for better device compatibility when the fish-eye lens is attached.
The world pointcodes are the same, although we have reduced the number from 10 to 8 to save on weight. We did use the spare space on those sheets to also provide some simple cardboard spacers that can help the fish-eye lens adapter to sit flat on devices with camera bumps.
All-in-all it’s a set of small tweaks to the contents and a big change in the packaging. In short, it’s the future of ZapBox.
When can I get one?
There were a few pre-production samples available to buy on our booth at Augmented World Expo 2018. It’s fair to say Connell was pretty excited that they arrived at our booth on time!
Connell (Zappar CTO) really loves his ZapBox 2.0, AWE 2018.
Those lucky few who attended the show were treated to a sneak peek of the new 2.0 kit and had a chance to try out the updated app. From our side, it was lovely to finally be able to share what we’ve been working on and to see such a great reaction to ZapBox.
I still love love what @ZapparApp are doing w/ #zapbox $30 for functional, untethered full room #MR w/ easy simple creation software. Grt for lo-cost experimentation & #educational uses #AWE2018 #AR #VR pic.twitter.com/dzmS98XPkm— Craig Mieritz (@cmieritz) June 3, 2018
I got my @ZapparApp box! $30 Flat packer AR kit - what’s not to love? #awe2018 pic.twitter.com/qKc4IHwgvj— Scott Michael Harris (@UserAbility) May 31, 2018
Awesome kit from @ZapparApp on the expo floor! Check out the new Zapbox #AWE2018 pic.twitter.com/aUHrpoOO4Z— AWE (@ARealityEvent) June 1, 2018
There are a number of slight alterations that we want to make before pressing the button on the full production run, which will then take place over the summer. We expect to have stock ready to sell by around October.
We’re also taking the opportunity to rethink how we fulfill orders for ZapBox 2.0 to ensure orders are dispatched as quickly as possible after being placed. We’re not going to run pre-orders for ZapBox 2.0 whilst we finalize all the details. If you need your ZapBox fix before then we still have some remaining stock of 1.0 which can be purchased through the BackerKit page.
Happy ZapBoxing! The future's going to be awesome.