StarVR showed its latest headset, the StarVR One, at SIGGRAPH 2018. The new headset is more than just an upgrade to the previous StarVR headsets. The company has revamped its styling and also upgraded the hardware components. Like the previous HMD, it incorporates SteamVR with new Tobii eye tracking 2.0, eye-tracking, and a slew of enhancements including the highest resolution in a VR HMD, widest FOV, foveated rendering, and multiple tracking.
Unlike the many competitors in the field, StarVR is not targeting its new HMD in the consumer market, but rather the commercial and enterprise VR markets. This marks a significant change in the company’s direction and could reflect the challenges in the market. StarVR’s HMD has been known for its ultra-wide field of view (210 degrees horizontal and 130 degrees vertical). Add to that, and enhancing it, is the eye tracking with foveated rendering.
In order to build this new version, the company had to do a custom lens and OLED display. The combination of the new, light-weight high-resolution lens and display have effectively eliminated any screen-door effect, which when combined with the foveated rendering, gives an extremely low latency result. That and the light-weight HMD makes wearing it for an extended amount of time much less problematic.
And to ensure manufacturing quality and costs, StarVR partnered with Acer. Acer’s VP, Jerry Kao took the stage to speak about all the deals they have done with enterprise software vendors.
|StarVR and Acer have quite successfully penetrated the enterprise market with the new StarVR HMD as indicated by all the enterprise partnerships they now have|
The new StarVR One brings significant upgrades, such as improved eye-tracking, custom-designed and manufactured high-resolution AMOLED displays, SteamVR Tracking 2.0, and a new head strap design. A variant of the headset, the StarVR One XT, has built-in optical markers for use with tracking systems other than SteamVR tracking.
|The StarVR One HMD uses the eye-tracker to automatically measures inter-pupillary distance (IPD) and calibrates the mirror’s position to provide the best image an individual user.|
The displays have a resolution of 1830 × 1464 each (3660 × 1464 across both eyes), which StarVR says use an RGB-stripe subpixel structure for less screen door effect. The displays also bring the headset refresh rate up to a 90 Hz, from 62 Hz previously. These are not trivial or easy improvements, and the company has invested a lot in R&D and manufacturing to accomplish it all.
Two products are available with different integrated tracking systems. The StarVR One uses SteamVR 2.0’s tracking solution. The, StarVR One XT has built-in active optical markers for compatibility with optical tracking systems. StarVR says it’s further enhanced with ready-to-use plugins for a variety of tracking systems and with additional customization tools.
There is a single tension knob in the back of the headset to adjust the fit. As a result, this headset is one of the few, maybe only one, that didn’t pinch my nose.
There is also a StarVR SDK that can be used for simplified development of new content, or, says the company, upgrading existing VR experience to StarVR’s premium wide-field-of-view platform. Developers also have the option of leveraging the StarVR One dual-input VR SLI mode, maximizing the rendering performance.
The company said the development effort that culminated in the launch of StarVR One involved extensive collaboration with StarVR technology partners, which include Intel, Nvidia and Epic Games.
What do we think?
I tried the headsets and found them to be comfortable, no screen door artifacts, and fast (no noticeable latency). The company hasn’t finalized how audio will be treated yet, so you can expect a news announcement on that in the next month or so. Also, pricing will be provided at a later date.