I’ve spent the last couple of months goofing around with VR in other games and finally got something working – kinda – in Zwift. Since it sounds like we won’t be getting Oculus or Gear VR support any time soon this is a DIY method to get an HMD working with Zwift.
First, a disclaimer. The setup below won’t create a true VR experience. Things won’t pop out at you and there won’t be the sense of depth that you get in Oculus Rift, Gear VR, or Google Cardboard experiences. That said, you will still get a fantastic sense of speed and scale. The island will look completely different, and you’ll feel much much smaller. Going over high speed sections with rapid elevation changes will make your stomach drop and you’ll feel yourself shifting weight back and forth. With a good set of headphones you will *almost* feel like you are there :). Also, do all of the below at your own risk. I can’t guarantee everything will work as described but it has been great on my system.
Anyways, here is what you’ll need:
- Android smartphone with a good screen. Something like Nexus 6 or Note 4.
- Cheap plastic Google Carboard type phone holder with headstrap. There are a bunch out there for $15-$20, sometimes cheaper.
- Windows desktop or laptop, ideally with a GPU that is compatible with NVIDIA’s gamestream service. You won’t use gamestream but having a compatible card will be a big help. Gamestream needs a 650ti or better card.
- Trinus Gyre. You’ll get this in the Google Play store and you’ll also need to download the client onto your computer. There is a trial version you can use to make sure everything works. Full version is $10 or so.
- Good wireless network at home.
How to set it up:
- Download Trinus Gyre to your phone and to your desktop. Open up the desktop client and click on “advanced mode”. Under the “main” tab set up choose your phone screen size and image quality. I’d leave it on normal or maybe high. Ultra can hurt performance. Under the “capture mode” choose compatible or Moonlight if you have a gamestream compatible card. Under “sensor output” choose free track. Zwift doesn’t have head tracking so this option will essentially disable it. Network should be left as is, provided your phone and computer are on the same network. Video – VERY important: select enabled under the “Fake3D” dropdown menu. Leave everything else default.
- Open Trinus Gyre on your phone and hit the power icon. Do the same thing on the desktop client. The power icon should be in the bottom right in advanced mode, or the big button in the middle when you initially opened it.
- On your phone you should see two images of your desktop. Put the phone in the cheapy plastic phone holder and adjust on your head until you can see your desktop clearly.
- Take the headset up and start Zwift up. Set up to ride like you normally do and then check your phone. You should see something like this: http://imgur.com/a9WpuiI. Switch to first person mode and you are off!
I did an 1 hour and 15 min ride today with the headset and didn’t have any lens fogging and it wasn’t uncomfortable. At least no more so than wearing a helmet inside. Obviously manipulating the keyboard is a little more difficult than usual but the immersion is incredible provided the frame rate and image quality are high enough. It would be really cool if we could unclutter the HUD and have working head tracking. Even cooler to have Zwift partner with Garmin and we could throw on a working model of the latest Garmin unit on our virtual bike and actually peer over the handlebars to look at our virtual numbers (very geeky I know).
Hopefully Zwift enables true VR support at some point, or maybe builds in compatibility with something like Widerun or Virzoom.