The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) headsets have been progressing in the new field of VR for some time, releasing and demoing several versions of their Hacker Development Kit (HDK) for a while now, and we even saw some demos back at CES 2015. They have been iterating the design a few times, with the current version being HDK 1.4. Today OSVR is announcing the updated HDK 2.

The big improvement to HDK 2 compared to HDK 1.4 is the new display panel. HDK 2 now features the same 2160x1200 resolution OLED display as the Oculus rift, and with the same 90 Hz refresh rate. Resolution is still a big issue with VR kits, and the previous version was just a 1920x1080 display, so this is a nice step up in pixels per inch. VR is still going to need higher resolution, but at the moment the HDK 2 does meet the benchmark laid down by the other players in this space.

In order to help reduce the screen-door effect, the HDK 2 also has what they are labelling IQE, or Image Quality Enhancer, which, according to the OSVR spokesman, is an optical coating to help with this pronounced issue with VR glasses. Likely this means that it is attempting to blur the pixels, in order to have them blend in with the other pixels. The displays do need to improve to remove this completely, and it doesn’t help that the OLED panels are actually pentile. I’d need to test this kit in person to get a good feeling for how well they have done with the coating, but there are of course downsides to blurring the image, even if it does help with one of the biggest issues with VR.

The HDK 2 comes with a 100 Hz IR camera for positional tracking, and the headset features individual eye focusing with the dual-lens system. Adjustments can be made from +4.5 to -2 per eye, which should allow it to work with the majority of users. The headset itself has a removable face mask, with bamboo charcoal microfiber foam. Unlike the Rift, there is no audio integrated with the headset.

OSVR has an open framework (as suggested by its name) so it will be able to work with a variety of controllers, and as more control mechanisms become available, it should be able to support them. The HDK system supports several content technologies, including SteamVR, and they plan to announce more content soon.

On that note, OSVR is also announcing a $5 million developer fund. Their goal is to ensure unrestricted access of VR content on all hardware. If you are a VR content developer, you can apply to this fund. If approved by the fund, and OSVR support is added to the content, Razer, or other future contributors, will purchase game codes in bulk to help compensate developers for their integration time, and the fund will also assist with marketing and promotional support.

The HDK 2 will be available for purchase at the beginning of July, and here OSVR is trying to win over some support by undercutting the competition. The HDK 2 will retail for just $399, compared to $599 for the Oculus Rift and $799 for the HTC Vive. In addition, the HDK 1.4 will remain on sale for $299.

I think OSVR has a long road ahead of them, since they are up against some well-backed competition, but it’s great to see the VR space already showing competition. Strong players should spur innovation in the field and lead to better products for all.

Source: Razer

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  • Nightcinder - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Are these compatible with Rift/Vive games or no?

    It's tempting if they are, so much cheaper.
  • thetuna - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Well, this doesn't seem to come with any controllers, so I can't see it functioning with Vive games at the moment.
  • Stuka87 - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    With Vive games basically being Vive only (unless extra support is added) I would take a guess that this should work with Rift games, but not Vive. The Vive's controllers are great for some games, but it also requires extra work on the developers part. Since this is just a headset, you would most likely use an XBox controller or the like, similar to a Rift.

    Its cool that Razer has set aside a fund to help out devs who are just getting into VR.
  • valinor89 - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Considering the recent dick moves from Oculus to DRM the oculus games to only work if an Oculus headset is connected I would not hope that this will work with those games.
  • Morawka - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    nah i'd say we'll see updated razer hydra controllers to go with this closer to launch
  • qlum - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Please note that the razer hydra was made by Sixense and they are currently working on releasing a successor although looking at their preorder page I would say that they are rather expensive.
  • brimalm - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Indeed very expensive
  • abrowne1993 - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Games exclusive to the Oculus storefront can only be played on the Rift (unless you use third party tool like ReVive). Games on Steam can be played by any headset which meets the physical requirements. So games that just track your head can be played by pretty much anything, but games that make use of room scale tracking and motion controllers can (at the moment) only be played on Vive.
  • edzieba - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    "Are these compatible with Rift/Vive games or no?"

    No. The OSVR is not compatible with games using the OculusVR (OVR) API, and the OpenVR-to-OSVR shim is currnetly outdated, so will not work with many SteamVR games.

    The "will be able to work with a variety of controllers" tagline is also a bit odd: it will work with neither the Vive remotes not Oculus Touch (due to incompatible tracking systems), and any standalone controllers (e.g. Sixense STEM, gamepad, HOTAS, driving wheel, etc) will work regardless of any HMD anyway.
  • naretla - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    "unrestricted access to multiple realities //
    The HDK supports a wide range of content technologies through the OSVR ecosystem including - OSVR and SteamVR experiences."

    - OSVR HDK2:

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