Room-scale VR with Cardboard & ARKit: Mushrooms XR

Oh boy, what a day. The 20th of March 2018. The day the world changed.

We, Next Reality have been working in the Virtual and Augmented Reality field for roughly 2 years now. It’s just a normal day, and somehow I end up checking a few videos from CES 2018 on Youtube, in order to prepare for our call with Vuzix on how to get our hands on the Vuzix Blade in the afternoon.

It’s just a short segment in the report I’m listening to: a guy from Homido, , a company specializing in Cardboard systems made of plastic says that they have this app where people can move freely in VR. I don’t think too much of it, but get curious.

Room-scale VR on a smartphone!

I check Homido’s site, find the app, Mushrooms XR for iOS, which is just a link on the site redirecting me to the Apple Appstore. It simply says, as you can see on the very bottom: „The first XR experience“. Homido seems to be a company of modesty since they don’t even have a page dedicated to Mushrooms XR on their website.

I download it onto my ARKit testing device, an iPhone SE, and start it. Of course, it’s the day on which I somehow managed to not have a cardboard headset at hand because I’m at home and my last one broke at the latest demo event for a local agency. So I just test it in the living room without an actual headset.

Holy shit, this actually works!

I’m quite sure nobody will believe me, but we have internally thought about this. Combining ARKit with a Smartphone and check out whether it works. Of course, being a startup, we can’t spend too much time programming stuff just for fun, so we didn’t do this. Regrettably.


Take a look, this is a video I recorder later in the day yesterday. All the movement is caused by me moving through the room. The few issues in the video are caused by recording it, the experience itself was flawless in that regard:

How does this work? ARKit (ARCore will work, too)!

It’s actually simple from a technology point of view, but we’re very curious how much effort it is to actually do this.

In order to get this done, Homido, or most likely the company they paid to create the app, just combined two technologies in a pretty smart way:

  • as a million other apps do, Mushrooms XR uses the Google Cardboard principle to show content in a way that let’s Cardboard Headsets bring people into VR. The main thing you need for such a thing on the device itself is a gyroscope, the thing that can measure how the device moves regarding tilt and turn.
  • the smart thing is to use ARKit, the new AR technology with which Apple disrupted the AR market last year, to track the smartphone in three dimensions. ARKit basically analyzes your surroundings, detects flat areas like the floor and creates a virtual 3D map of the space you’re standing it. The most popular use case so far has been putting virtual objects like furniture into your home. Yawn. Regrettably, we haven’t had a smarter idea yet, either.

The amazing thing Homido did, is to combine the two. Use ARKit for tracking the phone’s location within the room and using this to enable the Cardboard experience to have room-scale.

Why is this guy so excited?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Until yesterday, it was a given that Cardboard can’t do spatial tracking at all. Now it can. If ARKit can do it, ARCore can also do it. Therefore, most of the smartphones in the world just turned into very acceptable VR headsets. Now, thanks to ARKit/ARCore, any smartphone brings the most important feature for immersion with it, the sense of actually being in another world, the virtual reality. That’s the case because spatial and head tracking is the most important aspect of achieving immersion.

How can I test this?

Well, just go here, download the app, put your $20 headset on and enjoy the next big step in Virtual Reality:

  • Link to the App on iTunes
  • Link to a manual that you don’t need to use on Homido.
  • be aware that you have to push the area marked VR in the top right to start VR mode.


Wow. This is really incredible. With just a clever combination of technologies, all devices which can handle ARKit or ARCore just turned into VR systems with bodytracking. This is big. This might actually be the greatest usecase of ARKit and ARCore so far: enable room-scale VR on mobile systems without any external tracking technology. It’s basically like adding inside-out tracking to every smartphone. Amazing – that really made my day.

Preview from the Appstore:

Mushrooms XR on the App Store

Mushrooms XR on the App Store

Mushrooms XR: ARKit brings body tracking
Mushrooms XR: ARKit brings body tracking

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