Although VR seems to have gone off the boil recently, there are several ongoing efforts to revive its fortunes. This has included price cuts to hardware (the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers are now an enticing £499) plus the launch of various budget-friendly Windows mixed reality headsets like the Samsung Odyssey and Dell Visor.
Yet price isn’t necessarily the problem. Most gamers want VR to work, but there are core experience issues that need to be addressed. It’s why backpack PC systems like the MSi VR One and the TPCast adapter for the HTC Vive have attempted to cut the tethers and take VR wireless. While Pimax is crowdfunding what it claims is ‘the world’s first 8K VR headset’.
8K VR? That’s 4K per eye
If it works, a pair of 8K goggles could represent a dramatic leap forward for virtual reality. The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive currently offer an HD resolution of 1080 x 1200 pixels per eye and a 110-degree field of view (FOV). The proposed Pimax 8K VR headset will trump that with 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) per eye and a wider 200-degree FOV.
It says that its 8K VR hardware will allow “users to experience VR with peripheral vision while solving the problem of screen door effect and motion sickness.”
If you’ve played around in virtual worlds, you’ll know that motion sickness can seriously limit the amount of time you spend in them. Some players can suffer headaches, nausea, fatigue and disorientation, caused by factors such as mismatched motion, poor refresh rate and a reduced field of view.
Reducing the screen door effect
The screen door effect, meanwhile is a phenomenon whereby the viewer can detect the fine lines between pixels in an image. It lessens the illusion of any virtual reality environment, breaking the immersion. In theory, the Pimax 8K VR’s higher resolution should eliminate the problem, while its 200-degree FOV promises a wide-angle visual experience closer to what we humans see naturally.
There are several reasons to be optimistic about this 8K VR hardware. First, Pimax is no stranger to VR. It already sells a 4K headset delivering a 2K resolution per eye. Second, the platform will be modular, enabling new features to be added on in the future, such as hand motion, inside-out tracking, wireless and eye tracking.
Thirdly, Pimax aims to make its headset compatible with all the games you already play via SteamVR, Oculus and PiHome. Plug one into a beefy PC equipped with a high-end Intel® Core™ i7 processor and just imagine Project Cars 2 in slick Ultra HD or Star Trek: Bridge Crew with an eye-widening 200-degree FOV.
Virtual reality is here to stay
At the time of writing, Pimax’s modest $200,000 funding goal has already been smashed. Over $1,200,000 has been pledged from eager gamers and the closing date for the Kickstarter isn’t until November 3. Early-bird prices are set at $449 for the 8K headset (with dual 3840 x 2160 LCD panels) and $349 for a lower-spec 5K version (incorporating dual 2560 x 1440 OLED panels).
Will this Pimax 8K VR headset save VR? Or will interest be sparked by devices that support Windows Mixed Reality? What next-gen hardware do Oculus and HTC have up their sleeves? However you ultimately play in VR, get yourself ready with the latest virtual reality technology from Intel.