Bigscreen makes a play for smallest VR headset crown
LA-based VR platform company Bigscreen is moving into hardware with the launch of the Beyond headset, which is claimed to be the world's smallest – coming in at less than an inch at its thinnest point and said to weigh in six times lighter than other VR devices.
"As passionate VR enthusiasts, we built the VR headset we wanted for ourselves," said Bigscreen's founder and CEO, Darshan Shankar. "Today’s leading VR headsets have doubled in weight compared to headsets from 2016. We built Beyond because we felt VR was too heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable. We invented new technologies to increase comfort, and developed ultra-high-end components like OLED microdisplays and pancake optics to increase immersion. To deliver the best software experience for watching movies in Bigscreen, we also had to build the best hardware with Bigscreen Beyond."
The headset measures 24 - 49.2 mm deep, 143.1 mm long and 52.4 mm wide (0.9-1.9 x 5.6 x 2 in), and tips the scales at 127 g (4.5 oz) on its own, though that could increase to as much as 185 g (6.5 oz) depending on customer requirements. Either way, that's a good deal smaller and lighter than Meta's Quest Pro and the PS VR2 from Sony, by way of examples.
Its two 1-inch micro-OLED displays – each at 2,560 x 2,560 pixels – offer a combined resolution of 5K (5,120 x 2,560), with 7.2-µm-wide pixels, RGB stripe subpixels and "an incredible fill factor" reportedly joining forces to eliminate the so-called screen door effect. And users are treated to two available refresh rates of 75 Hz or 90 Hz. Custom pancake optics made up of glass, plastic polymers and films produce a field of view of 93 degrees horizontal and 90 degrees vertical, as well as boasting 28-pixels-per-degree visuals.
The Beyond has SteamVR tracking cooked in to keep tabs on position and orientation over three dimensions, though users will need to invest in at least one SteamVR base station to unlock six degrees of freedom. The headset is also said to be compatible with hundreds of VR games and apps on Steam via a cabled Windows PC, and works with SteamVR controllers and accessories. Users can even achieve full-body tracking using such things as HTC Vive or Tundra trackers.
Interestingly, each headset will be custom-built to perfectly match a customer's face and eye position courtesy of a 3D scan performed by the user with a iPhone XR (or newer) camera – Android smartphones are not supported as yet. This enables Bigscreen to create a hand-washable custom face cushion to ensure the correct alignment of optics to a specific user, as well as sealing off light leakage and making for even weight distribution. Folks who wear glasses can order optional prescription lenses that are secured in place with magnets.
The headset comes with a lightweight strap as standard, which adds another 28 g (0.9 oz) to the overall weight, but can be optioned with an Audio Strap that cups the top and back of the head for improved comfort and sports on-ear headphones.
The Bigscreen Beyond VR headset is up for pre-order now, starting at US$999 – which includes a 5-m (16-ft) fiber-optic cable and a Link box for connection to a computer that boasts at least quad-core processing and either GeForce RTX 2070 or Radeon RX 5070 XT (or newer) graphics. Controllers are not included in the ticket price.
The first shipping wave to the US only is due to start in Q3 2023, followed by Canada and Europe in Q4 and Japan, Australia and New Zealand later in the year. The video below has more.
Product page: Bigscreen Beyond