While the burgeoning virtual reality field is cluttered with big names like Sony, HTC, Facebook and others, the StarVR headset from upstart Starbreeze may hold a key advantage over its rivals.
Previously we have suggested that the major virtual reality and augmented reality hardware devices would likely emerge from the so-called 'big names' like Sony, HTC, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Of course, we hedged our bets a little, leaving open the possibility that some indie hardware developer would debut a device that could give the aforementioned tech and communication giants serious competition.
Last month's E3 Expo, a premier convention for the video games industry, saw the above players showcasing their preproduction wares. But the big talk of the show buzzed around a new headset, dubbed StarVR, that stole the show by featuring a huge differentiator.
A View to a Thrill
Starbreeze Studio, a Swedish development house for virtual reality hardware and software, has updated and renamed its InfinitEye 210 device as StarVR. More than a simple rebranding, the development prototype demoed at E3 sports a much larger field of view than other VR headsets. The 210 degree horizontal and 135 degree vertical field of view (FOV) dwarfs that of the Oculus Rift (100 degree horizontal and vertical FOV) and other VR headsets set to ship within the next 6-12 months.
This larger FOV is achieved through the implementation of two 5.5 inch displays for a whopping total resolution of 5120x1440. Starbreeze claims that the inclusion of more of a user's peripheral vision will neutralize the nausea attributed to other VR systems.
Not quite ready
It's been widely reported that the E3 StarVR demos were impressive, as the larger field of view presents a more immersive experience. But as the demoed headsets were at the prototype stage, there were a few technical glitches, including image judder, which will likely be ironed out before release. Also, the motion and positioning system is a work in progress and Starbreeze reps pointed out that they are investigating other ways to track user movements. And you'll likely need a killer gaming PC to pair with StarVR. And there's presently no release window or pricing info.
However, the increased FOV over competing VR hardware makes the StarVR an intriguing project and definitely one to keep our eyes on. As Starbreeze is also in the business of producing VR software and content, it's no surprise that its proprietary game engine, Valhalla, will support Steam OpenVR and the resulting games will be available on Steam...eventually.