Friday, December 13, 2019
Augmented RealityExtended RealityImmersive TechnologyVirtual Reality

The Best XR Gifts for the Tech Fan in Your Life

XR technology isn’t just computers and headsets. So, what else can you give your favorite tech-head?

 

With so much great XR technology out there, it’s easy to think of it around the holidays. It’s also difficult to narrow it down to pick the perfect gift.

This gift guide includes AR/VR gift ideas for the whole family and in all price ranges. Some might have flown under your radar, while others may not have occurred to you as gifts. Either way, there’s something here for every XR technology fan.

Headsets and Glasses

This time two or three years ago, it would have seemed crazy to suggest VR headsets or AR glasses as a gift. However, as VR companies release all-in-one devices and AR becomes more affordable, they’ve moved into the realm of plausible gifts.

Epson’s Moverio smartglasses are pretty industrious for someone outside of industry. The company does make smartglasses specifically for industry, but their consumer models are more appropriate and more affordable gifts. A wide model range means a wide price range but you’re looking at roughly $500 to $800.

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Epson Moverio AR glasses
Epson Moverio

The Oculus Quest completely changed the game when it comes to VR headsets. While not the first all-in-one VR headset, Quest showed us that great XR technology can be compact, wireless, and affordable.

While Oculus isn’t exactly under the radar, I don’t believe the average person truly understands what the real appeal of the Oculus Quest is, Software Portal CEO, Jason David, told ARPost. When you compare the Rift to the Quest, the specs don’t seem that much better. But the key is that the Quest is completely wireless. It still features complete 6DOF motion tracking and has dual controllers but there is no need to be tethered to a computer. And that’s a pretty significant leap forward in VR for a very affordable price.

Oculus Announces More Stand-Alone VR Technology with the Oculus Quest
Oculus Quest

With packages ranging from $400 to $500, the Quest is one of the most affordable VR headsets this holiday season, particularly as a gift for families.

In general, smartphones are also a good choice for experiencing most AR applications. However, for VR, smartphones alone are not enough. They need to be used with a headset, not a standalone one, but rather a mobile VR headset. Fortunately, there are a number of affordable options that make great gifts.

Gifts for Enthusiasts

XR isn’t just about the hardware. It’s an entire social revolution. Getting the tech-fan in your life a gift that expresses that can be more thoughtful than any hardware.

The New Collar Network is a group looking to ready the world for a higher-tech workforce. They do this in a number of ways but perhaps the most engaging of these is the People of the New Collar Workforce AR book.

new collar AR book
People of the New Collar Workforce Augmented Reality Book

Compatible with a free app, this AR book includes interviews with members of the New Collar Workforce. It’s a great gift idea for young people looking at high tech careers. The $75 book is currently available for preorder for the end of December delivery.

Cubit by Plott
Cubit

XR technology isn’t just for technology fans. Cubit by Plott is an XR multi-tool for do-it-yourselfers and handy-folk.

The $100 Cubit is a level, a tape measure, and a design studio all in one. It connects to most cellphones via Bluetooth and a free app. Thanks to mixed reality, the app also allows users to utilize photos of their space to plan interior decorating.

Kids and Family

Again, this time a few years ago, XR technology would have been all about the adults. However, as it quickly ingrains itself in our lives, there are always more great XR applications for the whole family.

The Arloopa AR Cube is kind of like a dice but instead of a number on each side, each side is a target for a different AR experience. The best part? The user gets to determine what AR experience is associated with each target.

Arloopa AR Cube
Arloopa AR Cube

Great for any time of the year, the AR Cube is particularly good for the holidays. Set each side as a different image or experience for a digital grading card table. All that’s needed is the cube and the Arloopa app.

DEVAR has developed a series of AR children’s books covering topics from biology to the solar system. Not all of the books are strictly educational, with some titles featuring popular series like My Little Pony, or Fixies.

my little pony AR book
My Little Pony AR book

The AR Coloring Box is a project by a young XR technology company Lost Works Studio.

The kits consist of wooden panels and cut-out shapes. These can be colored and then assembled into a miniature stage scene. Works of art on their own, an AR app brings the scene to life.

Coloring Box Looks to Bring AR Technology to Children

Things You Might Not Think Of

When most of us think of XR technology, it’s easy to think of computers and headsets. However, there are a lot of peripheral items that are just as crucial and much more affordable.

App store gift cards

Steam gift cards
Steam gift cards

When you think of XR technology gifts, it’s easy to think big. There’s nothing wrong with that but you miss a lot along the way. Like App store gift cards.

These days, a lot of casual XR technology users still experience XR through their mobile devices. That means that gift cards for Google Play and iTunes can be great gifts for XR aficionados. More ambitious gaming platforms like Steam and the PlayStation network also sell cards that let users buy VR games and experiences.

Most of the links above are for digital gift cards. However, many tech stores, big box stores, even many bargain stores carry hard gift cards. They’re easy to pick up last minute and fit in a greeting card.

Accessories

Many AR and VR applications require some minimal hardware but have other options. For example, many mobile-based AR and VR applications work better with a wireless controller. These products can be found at most tech and big box stores and online retailers pretty affordably. I couldn’t find any that I’m personally enthusiastic to endorse but some research or a chat with an expert at a nearby retailer should point you in the right direction.

Headstrap- VR cover
VR Cover

On the other hand, if you know someone with PlayStation VR, you have some solid gift options. PlayStation VR only requires a PS4 and a headset but Sony has a huge line of accessories.

Another option is a cover for VR headset. VR Cover is a company that makes custom VR headset accessories that make them fit and work better. They also make them easier to clean. It’s something that a lot of VR enthusiasts don’t think about until they’re already using a smelly, maladjusted headset.

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Final Thoughts

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, we hope that this gift guide will help to get you thinking about the XR technology that would make the best presents for people in your lives.

 

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance writer specializing in Technology and Health. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife and cat.