AntVR, the Beijing-based company known for their 2014 VR headset Kickstarter, launched a new crowdfunding campaign today for an augmented reality headset dubbed ‘Mix’. AntVR says the PC-tethered AR headset, which starts at $500 without positional tracking, will have a 96-degree field of view (FOV), and the ability to use the SteamVR platform so users can play games originally intended for VR headsets—provided the game has a dark, or entirely black background.
As for the headset itself, the company says Mix features two 1,200 × 1,200 displays with a 90Hz refresh rate, boasting a 96-degree FOV. Optional accessories, which connect via the headset’s two USB ports, include things such as inside-out tracking modules, hand-tracking modules, and even optional eye tracking.
Provided they hit their $50,000 funding goal, AntVR is promising to ship to backers by December 2018. At the time of this writing, the Mix AR headset Kickstarter is already over a fifth of the way there.
Here’s a look at the different price tiers and accessories AntVR is offering:
Image courtesy AntVR
AntVR claims the headset achieves its 96-degree FOV by way of its self-developed “dual-channel mixed optics,” a multiple layered optic that has two different optical channels for enlarging the display’s light while allowing ambient light to bypass the lens.
The company recently published a video showing the headset ‘in action’ as it was filmed through its lenses with an iPhone X, showing a bit of what a VR game looks like when played using Mix. We haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with Mix, but if the video is any indication of the final product, than users should expect some refractive artifacts that could muddy the clarity of the VR imagery to noticeable effect.
AntVR has come a long way since it launched their first Kickstarter back in May 2014, which garnered over $260,000 to realize what at the time was positioned as a competitor to the Oculus Rift DK2. While the headset did eventually ship to backers, AntVR made the critical mistake of over-promising and under delivering, which ultimately rendered the launch of AntVR’s first headset pretty tumultuous.
The company went on to produce a number of VR devices including a room-scale VR headset called AntVR Cyclops, and a few portable Cardboard viewers, with one such viewer made in collaboration with Lenovo. Not many of these headsets have hit Western shores however, making Mix the company’s second big push into the Western market.
AntVR Mix, Image courtesy AntVR
Mix draws strength from its ability to play SteamVR games, boasting +130 games already supported, although it’s unclear what good that will do at the lowest funding tier, which comes with a single 3DOF controller and no positional tracking module that would otherwise give the headset 6DOF movement.
Without any prior VR equipment at your disposal such as an entire SteamVR tracking setup with Vive controllers, you’d need to buy at very least the $630 ($850 MSRP) outside-in tracking kit, which provides two 6DOF controllers, a 6DOF headset module and an external sensor in order to get the same basic functionality as promised in the launch video (linked above and below). All of this rests on the caveat that you already have a VR-ready PC.
Whatever the cost, a lower profile headset with a relatively high FOV is certainly tantalizing on paper, and we can’t wait to see if the headset lives up to its ambition.
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