Alt Reality is one the rising stars of the local maker scene.
Started just a month ago the six-person team already has working virtual reality (VR) headsets and software, a string of corporate gigs and a work space filled to the brim with chopped up hardware.
It’s not their work space, per say, but rather the DIZ makerspace in Braamfontein.
It’s here that Alt Reality began; Rick Treweek (who you may know from RoboBeast and Trobok Toys) was working on a VR headset on his own when Phathwa Senene happened to walk past him… carrying his own self-made VR headset.
The pair then teamed up to form the core of what would become Alt Reality.
Along the way the team has picked up not only talented individuals, but partnerships too. Take the headset above. It was printed on a RoboBeast 3D printer using sponsored Verbatim PLA filament. It’s running software made by Treweek and Kim Arnaud Mukenge – the team’s Unity developer.
The small team has also lent its skills to other projects. They’ve created branded hardware and software for companies eager to get a foot in the door of the VR craze, and they’ve got a list of excited and interested parties (which they can’t share with us at the moment).
But back in DIZ the team is still hacking away. Although the headsets are made on a South African 3D printer, the lenses have been sourced from China and the straps are made from, wait for it, braces.
While mobile VR headsets are the team’s focus at the moment (due to its accessibility), they’re also working on control pad peripherals. When we visited them at DIZ, the team were taking apart small controllers (the types used for electric gates) to give the user some kind of manual input.
During our visit we also played a game called ‘World of Rabbit VR” in which we used the magnet switch on the side of the headset to shoot objects. We felt very much like Cyclops from the X-Men.
What’s really exciting is what the team have in store for these headsets and the kind of place they began in.
“One of the biggest issues is [getting] access to makerspaces but, once you’re there, you’re inspired,” said Treweek, “[people] who have access to tech don’t think about the tech in the right way, especially for education.”
To that end Alt Reality has a concept for a virtual makerspace in which people can learn about all the machines and experiences you could have in these places, without leaving your home.
While helping to eliminate the need for redundant machinery (something makerspaces have always tried to address), it gives people an easier way to get into these spaces and learn these skills. Not everyone has the courage to enter a facility filled with strangers working on complex machinery, but this kind of software would solve this. Great for shyer adults, great for kids, great for everyone.
We’re going to leave you with a gallery of some of the views from inside DIZ and Alt Reality’s work space, as well as a fervent “keep your eye on this”, because we see greatness in this reality for Alt Reality. Stay on makers.htxt for the latest.