Transforming your Smartphone into a Controller for VR


Navi is an app that you can download on the Google Play Store for Android or App Store for iOS that will automatically sends your device’s orientation and touch input to a VR application that supports it. By using a local Wi-Fi connection, Navi is able to support all the latest and greatest headsets, including the GearVR, Google Cardboard, Oculus DK2, or any other VR device you may think of. This input control scheme is designed to be affordable, easy to use, and accessible to the masses. The best part is that everything is open source. Don’t believe me? Check out the video to see for yourself or better yet, try out one of the demos if you have Google Cardboard or a DK2 (more demos coming soon).

Virtual Reality is about to take off with the release of all of the consumer headsets in 2016. But there is still something that is missing, especially in the realm of Mobile VR; a controller that everyday people (yes, not just gamers) will have easy and intuitive access to. What better piece of technology than your smartphone or tablet to help you control your virtual environment? Navi’s goal is to help rectify this need by providing an open-source controller for developers to create content that can be enjoyed by everyone.

If you are a developer (or now excited to be one), check out the Github page for Navi. To get started with developing for Navi, make sure to look at the NaviSDK. For a tutorial on how to incorperate Navi into your app, watch this 5-step video guide.


Navi is a spin-off of a Google Project Tango prototype, developed by Vasanth Mohan AKA Fuseman for the Project Tango Competition. The idea, in part, came about from trying out Google Cardboard apps on my Galaxy S4 and realizing that it was a cool introduction to VR for many people, but nowhere near the quality I would like (I was a little spoiled by developing with positional tracking at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab). I wondered if there was any better use of smart devices, which is where I thought of using it as a controller.

I am currently at Stanford finishing up a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. If you are in the Bay Area, look for me at VR meetups. I try to go to as many as I can since they are a great way to meet new people in this budding industry.

Want to reach out? Send me an email or join this Google Group to get in contact with the community. I would also appreciate any donations as they help me keep things running as we continue to build up this community.



  • Stanford, California