As exciting as VR might sound at this point in time, virtual reality headsets are a fairly new and untested product, and thus, not many VR enthusiasts can or are willing to become early adopters of the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. These headsets cost a pretty penny and also require a powerful computer on the side, but there are cheaper alternatives out there, including Google's own Cardboard headset. The Cardboard might be the most accessible VR solution for enthusiasts, many of which may have experienced VR only through Cardboard or similar budget headsets. Needless to say, jumping from Cardboard to a high-end VR headset might not be an easy decision to make, but interestingly enough, Cardboard users can now get a taste of what the high-end VR market has to offer, all thanks to VRidge – a new piece of software that allows testing Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR titles on Cardboard headsets.
In a nutshell, VRidge is a streaming platform and an emulator, allowing users to stream Oculus Rift and Steam/HTC Vive games from a Windows PC onto their smartphone over a Wi-Fi connection. The PC does all the processing and streaming through the RiftCat client, the VRidge application (emulator) on your handset displays the streamed content, and the smartphone together with Google Cardboard handles motion sensing and head tracking. It's definitely a cheaper way to experience some Oculus/HTC Vive virtual reality titles without committing to either one of these platforms, but of course, the VRidge is not meant as an actual replacement for the said headsets. After all, there are good reasons why the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift are considered high-end VR headsets, and generally speaking it's due to the impressive hardware and optics. In fact, the developer advises against buying fully-fledged virtual reality titles just for playing on the VRidge, adding that the product is not going to deliver the real Oculus Rift / HTC Vive experience. In addition or at least based on Google Play user reviews, some games may be streamed in lower quality and others might not work at all. Performance can also be an issue, and it's worth noting that the VRidge does require a smartphone running Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer, as well as a VR-ready PC, not unlike the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. You can find the minimum and recommended PC specs requirements for VRidge on the official page.
VRidge is currently in beta stages and enthusiasts can sign up for testing the application by heading down to the source link and or / following the developer's instructions in the video below. At the moment, the list of tested and supported smartphones includes the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, and the OnePlus One. The application works on other brands and models too, but the developer cannot guarantee compatibility with all the Android devices on the market so you'll have to try the application yourself and see how your phone handles it.