Infinitus Prime tVR: Everything We Know So Far
Yesterday, in London, a new VR HMD emerged from the woodwork that goes by the name of Infinitus Prime tVR. A collaborative effort between two companies, Delion Global (UK) and Quanti (Czech Republic), brought the headset to fruition. With both companies uniting under the name, Infinitus Global.
Infinitus Global’s launch event for their Infinitus Prime headset was held at Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge yesterday morning, where the company released information about their debut device publicly for the first time.
So what is the headset all about?
Infinitus Prime is positioning itself in a slightly different corner of the market to its main competitors – Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and HTC and Valves, Vive. The way the company differentiates itself lays in the fact that they will be targeting enterprise as their key audience and demographic.
Some examples of use cases given in the Infinitus Global press release include “Education, advertising, tourism, marketing, design, and engineering” to name a few. To facilitate a wider potential for use, Prime comes with modular lenses that are interchangeable, dependent on the desired application. Howard, Thompson, CEO of Infinitus Global, explains,
“Say you were doing a racing simulator game and its relatively high resolution, but it’s going to be moving quite quickly. You may not need to see every millimeter detail, that could need one type of lens, a Fresnel lens (Lenses that divide into a set of concentric sections, commonly made from plastic).”
“And then you have your traditional glass lenses. Say you’re doing remote surgery, you don’t need a massive field of view, you just need to see what you’re looking at. This is where we come into our own.”
Additionally, another factor Prime is using to set its self apart from other devices on the market is that they are designed for high volumes of users on a single device. So, to achieve this Prime set out to create a robustly engineered HMD. A process in which the company was involved in all the way, from the production process to manufacturing, development, software coding, firmware and pretty much everything, except for the displays. According to Thompson, they even built the 3d printers used for printing parts for the device.
So what’s under the hood?
Infinitus Prime is a pretty hardcore piece of kit. It boasts a 5k display, a field of view (FOV) of 140 and weighs in at around 500 grams. however, the final release of the device will be slightly smaller, and slightly lighter, according to Thompson. When discussing the FOV of the device, Howard Thompson, CEO of Infinitus Global, explained to VRRelated that these are “very conservative figures” and hinted that we could see significant improvements in FOV when the product ships in August 2016. However, he stated that he wanted to be transparent with what they are able to achieve if you were to purchase the HMD at this particular moment in time.
Infinitus Prime in production, taken from the companies Twitter
In virtual reality, a 75hz refresh rate is commonly referred to as the base rate for VR. Lower refresh rates are attributed to creating a less comfortable experience regarding motion sickness. We raised this point concerning the 60 Hz refresh of the Infinitus Prime tVR, to which Howard Thompson responded.
“Refresh rate is very important to us, but the quality of the image was the primary concern, and obviously, our initial audience is not gaming. as you can see, we are very specifically targeting industry. Yes gaming will play a part in that, but it will be very industrial gaming. so its going to be 20 gaming stations in a virtual gaming centre.”
Another thing worth noting is the choice of display, Prime chose to go with an IPS LCD, which is a controversial choice given the advantages and disadvantages of this display against an AMOLED. We asked what led to this decision, and Thompson explained that the main aim was “pixel density and definition.” he continues “other headsets didn’t have the same definition, so we wanted to go a different direction, it was a tradeoff of resolution for a lower refresh rate.”
To achieve motion tracking, Prime uses similar technology found in the Gear VR and Samsung smartphone set up. Only, in this case, the Accelerometer and gyroscope and other tracking technology are built into the actual headset itself.
The prime HMD comes with no built-in headphones, Howard explained that this is because customers may need criteria based on their use case. He gave two examples firstly,
“it could be used in virtual theater, or at home or somewhere else, where you might want to use the existing infrastructure.” or “you could be using it in a very noisy environment, where somebody needs to be using noise canceling headphones.“
Minimum requirements have not yet been specified, however, to give us an idea, Marek Polcak, CTO of Infinitus Global, expanded
“the HMD is 5k res, we had quite a few problems with playing content in the beginning, so we had to develop our own VR video player that Plays videos up to 16k, however, 4k is fluent, even in integrated graphics in laptops. 8k is a bit slower and for 16k we recommend a GTX Titan.”
Infinitus Prime has been through extensive testing to reach this point. “Over the last three years, 30,000 consumers have used the device” and all of the feedback has gone into the development of the end product. This was made possible by an existing business set up by Marek Polcak, CTO at Infinitus Global. Polcak’s existing company is called Fly Prague and is essentially a theme park ride. It uses a motion platform along with a VR headset to allow users to experience a virtual flight of Prague. Marek wanted a VR system that would be suited for this use case, but couldn’t find anything on the market at the time. So a lot of the inspiration for the device comes from the requirements and demands of a functioning business in this sector. Thompson explained,
“No VR headset could stand a week of usage in this environment. He (Marek) would have to buy three headsets for every headset, that he wanted to make sure was working by the end of the week”.
Customization is also a substantial part of the Infinitus Prime model, given that the target market is almost 100% B2B trade, Infinitus Global wanted to cater for the needs of that market with what they deliver.
The new HMD comes with customization options that allow businesses to edit the aesthetics of the headset to suit their branding. Including programmable RGB LED’s that can be switched to match the color of a particular company’s branding as well as full-colour changes of the device. There will also be many other customization options that will come with an additional premium based on the requirements of the order. In fact, with the Prime model, businesses can have an entire system, custom designed to suit their needs. However, as stated before this will come with an added premium on top of the cost of the device.
“we will have a price guide for customization, if you want to do this, this is how much it’s going to cost. Customizations could very be simple. It could be a rehash of the firmware, simple changes that will cost nothing. Whereas, if you wanted to add an entirely new interface for the device, and add new lines of code, that’s going to be something completely different.”
“You can buy anything from a headset on its own, a headset with a protective case, a complete starter kit that includes everything you need. You can get a set up with a support package that gives you a certain amount of assistance to get you up and running. And will also have the possibility to be able to lease the devices.”
Multiple users tracked in one space is another feature of Prime that isn’t inherent with other HMD’s on the market, according to Thompson, up until now they have tested with up to 18 people in one experience. All of which playing the same video in a virtual movie theater for example. All of this data can be managed and buffered from a single computer.
Thompson embellished this idea by saying
“imagine if you’re in a theater, you could flash your LED’s a particular color, and the steward would know that you had run out of popcorn.”
Platform and compatibility
Another one of the key differentiators for Infinitus Prime is compatibility. The software platform, made exclusively by the company, is available on Windows, Mac and Linux and they have also designed, their own, compression algorithms for their video player that allow for the buffering of much larger files. The player is compatible with most of the existing video files that we are used to, MP4, VLC, and even youtube. It works with a simple, drag and drop, set up, similar to Windows Media Player and iTunes.
With the standard package users will have access to a small range of demo content, including a 3d environment, rendered at 16k, other videos captured in 8k and a horror game that is being developed exclusively for the device.
Additionally, Infinitus Prime intend to provide an SDK to allow third-party content providers to develop for the platform.
So what does it cost?
Infinitus Prime comes in at a $3,000 for a starting point, which may seem expensive at first but its important to remember that this is not a consumer product. Prime will be globally available through online and direct sales. Infinitus are also building a distributor network and will be going through a leading global technology distributor in the UK. The reason for this is because the retailers will need to be able to offer the required support to the end user. “The retailers need to be able to demonstrate and provide support of the customers for what they’re buying.” so the relationship with the distrubuter will be important to the company going forward, according to Thompson.
Regarding interest in the device, in the year leading up to today, 150 organizations have shown an interest that could have resulted in potential sales of around 5,575 units. Although, Prime is yet to begin accepting the orders up until now. In fact, preorders only officially began yesterday.
We are arranging a private session with Infinitus Prime and will be posting our full first impressions of the device soon. So stick with VR Related for the latest on this story. In the meantime, you can follow the progress of the company over on their Twitter, and see more when their website launches very soon.
Massive thanks to Ben Stanton, Technology Research Analyst at Canalys, who provided live reports from the Infinitus Prime tVR launch event.