WhartonBrooks shows off VR headset, outlines plans for four more Windows 10 Mobile phones

Back in August, WhartonBrooks announced plans to launch a new Windows 10 Mobile handset in the autumn, promising that it would be "the most disruptive since the advent of the smartphone in 2000". It added that it would bring "new products and services that will radically change the mobile computing industry". After indefinitely postponing an event in September, and a delay due to "regulatory hurdles" in October, WhartonBrooks finally unveiled its new device two weeks ago.

That device is the Cerulean Moment, which has a 5-inch 720p display, 3GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 617 processor. It's priced at around $299, but its launch is dependent upon the company reaching its crowdfunding goal of $1.1 million by May 15. At time of writing, the Indiegogo campaign had reached 2% of its target after two weeks, with just under $25,000 raised from 102 backers.

But while the Cerulean Moment has a long way to go before it reaches its goal, WhartonBrooks is already planning for the future, with a wider range of Windows phones, and a virtual reality headset.

The MS Mobile Show published images showing a prototype of the new VR headset, a single unit made up of three elements: a head-mounted display with what appears to be an external camera; integrated over-ear headphones; and a headstrap that covers the forehead and wraps around the rear of the head.

The headset appears pretty bulky, but given that this is a prototype, the final unit may well be a bit sleeker. Cerulean Mobile is said to still be "in the planning stages" of working with the manufacturer of the headset, which is described as a "well-known phone case company".

Image: The MS Mobile Show

Meanwhile, WhartonBrooks CEO Greg Murphy spoke to Vernon E L Smith on the The MS Mobile Show this week, and described how the Cerulean Moment is just one of a range of handsets that the company has on its roadmap.

The realities of actually developing, building and launching devices meant that WhartonBrooks had to prioritize, rather than launching all five handsets at once, and even the company's first device isn't quite what it originally had in mind.

Murphy said that the Moment was originally intended to be a 'camera-centric' phone that would "replace the [Lumia] 1020", Nokia's flagship masterpiece, which had a remarkable 41-megapixel camera. Those plans have clearly changed, as the Moment only has a 13-megapixel camera. Murphy hinted that a camera-focused device is still something that WhartonBrooks would like to do, but said "we have to start somewhere".

However, in addition to the Moment, Murphy said that all four of the other devices that it originally planned remain on its long-term roadmap, and WhartonBrooks hopes to target different types of buyers and satisfy different needs with each of them:

  • A device nicknamed the 'CEO Phone', which Murphy described as "the elegant masterpiece". He said "it does everything well and looks good too".
  • Allegro: a phone for music and musicians, with high-end audio capabilities for recording and playback; multiple inputs ("multiple microphones, multiple USB ports"); and support for different kinds of peripherals and external storage.
  • Mountain: "a rugged phone for the outdoor adventurer type". Confusingly, Murphy described this as "almost like the 830 where you can go protect your house and home from the burglars". It's not at all clear what Murphy meant there, particularly given that the Lumia 830 - if that's what he was referring to - was not in any way a rugged device.
  • Capsule: "a compact, no-compromise smartphone".

After the Moment is launched, WhartonBrooks will begin discussions with manufacturers, and with the community of Windows phone fans, to determine the best course to bring those other devices to market. Murphy said that its development path will be "completely crowd-driven, so we'll let the community decide which phone we pursue first".

Murphy said that while the Indiegogo campaign is currently only funded to 2% of its target, "there's actually more promotion that we have coming", adding that he expects that number to go up in the coming weeks.

Source: The MS Mobile Show

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