Star Chart for VR is a virtual reality planetarium app for your Smartphone. It let’s you explore the sun, planets, and major moons of the solar system, along with 88 constellations. You can use it with Google Cardboard or Samsung’s Gear VR device.
The app is from Escapist Games, maker of the wildly popular augmented reality app of the skies (20 million users). The AR version lets you point your phone or tablet at the heavens and identify the planets, stars, and constellations.
Here’s the description from VR Perception:
Our intention when building Star Chart for virtual reality is to make the educational exploration of the visible universe as fun, entertaining, immersive, effortless and accessible as possible. Bringing Star Chart to the ultimate immersive platform virtual reality has taken space exploration to a whole new level. Gear VR users now have access from the comfort of their home to an experience more compelling than that of a multimillion dollar planetarium.
A Planetarium in your Home
As it has before, the tech revolution is taking expensive hardware and turning it into a low-cost consumer product. A planetarium can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to millions depending on the quality and features. A virtual reality app on your phone isn’t going to come close to what you’ll experience at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago or the Hayden in New York. But convenience rules (remember what happened to the music industry) and the technology will rapidly get better.
We tried an HTC Vive experience at Sundance and it was incredible. Going with a high-end HMD provides a different experience. But mobile VR is a lot less expensive and with so many kids and adults owning smartphones, we expect the app to take off.
Star Chart for VR
The creators of Star Chart VR spoke to Space.com:
You can finally let your inner child’s astronaut loose to explore space, the night sky and our solar system in detail,” reads a statement that the app’s maker. . . From the tiny moons of Mars to the farthest reaches of the Pluto system, from constellations and stars to looking down on Earth, you’ll get a perspective on the size and scale of the universe you’ve never had before — you’ll actually be there!
Inner child indeed. It will be a fun app, and definitely educational. If the success of the augmented reality version is any indication, the virtual reality version will be a huge success.
You can buy the Star Chart VR app on Gear VR and Google Play. The VR app will cost $5 on iTunes though it has not been released for the iPhone at the moment.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.