Somnium VR1 headset Development Update — 👁️Optics, 🏗️Production, Design, Materials, 🥽FOV.
At Somnium Space, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality (both hardware and software), delivering immersive experiences that are second to none. With this in mind, we’re thrilled to introduce the latest developments with the Somnium VR1 headset.
Our mission in the past several months was updating the VR1 to enhance the structural integrity, Optics (FOV), lower the weight, improve the fit of the anchor points and much more. These changes have resulted in a production-ready design that is not only more robust but also comfortable for extended use and has a unique look with its own character. The VR1 now features four customizable and 3D printable anchor points, allowing for custom 3D printed extensions to be mounted onto the headset, thus enhancing user customization possibilities. Three of those four anchor points come with fast 10 Gbit USB-C ports.
The updated design of the Somnium VR1 boasts several notable improvements (in comparison to a CES model we have shown in early January), further elevating its production-ready status. The upgrades have remarkably enhanced its structural integrity, ensuring the device is more durable and robust. Furthermore, we have put a lot of attention to ergonomics resulting in a more comfortable user experience, with a shape and weight distribution designed for long-term use. Finally, a refined size adjustment means the device can comfortably fit a broader range of users, marking a significant step forward in the overall design. Together with our production team we are exploring a possibility of producing a Transparent Special Edition. So far it looks promising and we hope to bring this version to life at launch in 2023.
We are excited to announce that optics structural design has been completed and lenses have recently entered mass production in Czech Republic.
In the domain of optics, the Somnium VR1 headset distinguishes itself by possessing a unique dual-lens aspheric module (2 lenses per eye-box). This truly unique setup ingeniously blends lenses into one integrated system offering a REAL field of view (FOV) — 125° horizontally and 100° vertically.
In fact, on the picture below you can see an FOV of 128° horizontally and 102° vertically measured by Artur Sychov — our Founder & CEO (his IPD is 64). This comprehensive FOV, one of the widest available in the industry, allows for an immersive experience that is unparalleled. Especially in Social VR or Simulator applications, making the VR1 an ideal tool for both gaming and professional applications.
But it’s not just the size of the view that impresses; it’s the quality. The lenses in the VR1 have been meticulously engineered to provide a clear, bright image that brings virtual worlds to life. The clarity of the optics ensures that every detail is sharp and defined, fromd distant landscapes to close-up interactions.
The interpupillary distance (IPD) of our Somnium VR1 headset can be manually adjusted between 60 and 76 millimeters. This extensive range positions VR1 as one of the most versatile headsets available, designed to cater to almost any user and deliver ultimate comfort.
The Somnium VR1 headset features an adjustable diopter facilitated through magnetically attachable lenses, adding a level of customization to enhance user experience. Furthermore, the comprehensive 3D blueprint of the Somnium VR1 headset will be made public, enabling third-party developers to create and innovate an array of additional attachable accessories.
The lenses production process includes a laser-pointed diamond polishing, a meticulous process that enables lens surface to have an incredible degree of smoothness, thereby maximizing visual clarity. Our process also includes an ultra-precision machining process, which delivers Optical Profiles with form and figure errors within sub-micron tolerances & super-smooth surfaces with roughness contained within few nanometers.
Each lens undergoes a precise anti-reflection coating process to reduce glare and enhance the clarity of the image, and additional anti-scratch coating that ensures the lens remains in prime condition even with long-term regular use.
This combination of wide FOV and exceptional optical clarity sets the VR1 apart, making it one of the top VR headsets in the market when it comes to visual quality. Whether you’re exploring a virtual world, engaging in a highly realistic game, or conducting a professional training simulation, the VR1 offers a visual experience that is as close to reality as currently technically possible in the world of VR.
The screen electronics and software of the VR1 has been upgraded to enhance brightness, and increase the refresh rate.
With a display resolution of 2880 x 2880 (per eye) pixels and a 35 PPD, the VR1 offers unrivaled graphics quality. Furthermore, the VR1 screen boasts a brightness of 210 nits, a contrast ratio of 20000:1 due to Local Dimming, a color gamut covering 100% of the NTSC spectrum, and refresh rates that range from 90Hz to 120Hz, with even higher rate (144Hz) currently in testing mode.
In terms of brightness and vibrancy, the VR1 stands out from the crowd. Combination of top quality best in class screen and our best-in-class optics allow for one of the brightest and vibrant images on the market that is rich in detail and color. The visual experience is not only stunning but also comfortable on the eyes, allowing for extended sessions without strain.
PASS-THROUGH & EYE TRACKING
We have significantly upgraded Somnium VR1 pass-thorugh cameras quality and capabilities. With this new camera system, Somnium VR1 sets the bar high with the best stereoscopic pass-through technology in the market. It features two 12 Mpx cameras with a native resolution of 2x 4056x3040. The pass-through capability opens a plethora of possibilities, such as real-time chroma key masking, 3D model uploading and integration into the AR scene, enhancing the immersive fidelity of the VR1. The real-time chroma key masking capability allows developers to seamlessly blend virtual and physical worlds in real-time. One particularly noteworthy development is the addition of an optional external LiDAR sensor via top anchor point. This feature widens the scope of potential applications with the pass-through technology, such as highly accurate 3D mapping of the user’s environment.
This could enable innovative applications in mixed reality experiences, gaming, and even virtual production for films or live performances. Native integration of 3D models into the AR scene also takes these capabilities even further, permitting developers to create experiences where virtual objects are anchored in the real world. This could bring a whole new level of immersion to games and especially simulations, or revolutionize the way we work, allowing re-creation of physical working environment into VR.
Eye tracking has also received significant attention in our updated VR1 headset. We’ve developed a state-of-the-art eye tracking technology that enables the device to measure eye position and eye movement, determining where your attention is and what you are focusing on.
In collaboration with the Czech Academy of Sciences, we are developing specialized IR-reflective glass inserts for our lenses. This advancement will enable our eye-tracking cameras to capture eye movements with greater precision.
This information can be used to reduce GPU load and/or deliver a higher-quality graphics experience through foveated rendering both in VR and AR modes via our incredible pass-through cameras.
WEIGHT, FACEMASK, CABLES
Despite packing a wealth of high-tech features, the VR1 remains relatively lightweight, weighing between approx. 700g — 850g (incl. head-strap) depending on your chosen configuration. We’ve carefully balanced the weight distribution with a very modern and balanced head-strap (included in the box) with memory foam components and in-built high quality headphones (of course headphone jack is also present in VR1) to ensure maximum comfort during use.
We are also working hard on our face interface. The face-mask of the VR1, designed for optimal comfort and fit, employs a magnetic attachment mechanism for seamless removal and replacement. As part of our commitment to user customization, we will release the complete 3D blueprints of the face-mask, enabling users to 3D print their own, tailored to their individual preferences. Additionally, our team is fervently refining our face interface through extensive testing of a broad range of materials and shapes. As being VR power users ourselves, we know how important face interface and fit is, therefore we are committed to deliver the highest standards of comfort and fit.
The VR1 headset boasts a specially designed and developed detachable (secured with a screw for a more robust connection) hybrid optical data cable.
This advanced system consolidates Display Port (32 Gbps), USB 3 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), and power functionality into a singular, streamlined USB Type-C connector, utilizing a unique pin-out configuration. The result is unparalleled ease of connectivity and a significant reduction in clutter and weight. A generous cable length of 6 meters (20ft.) allows flexibility and freedom of movement. The current, detachable 6-meter cable can be effortlessly swapped for a more compact shorter cable (will be available later). This forward-thinking upgrade is designed to enhance your comfort and convenience by allowing a seamless connection to a streaming box (available in the future) attached at the waist or backpack PCs which are widely available on the market and used by VR Arcades around the globe today.
We are happy to announce that have already initiated checks of our production facility in the Czech Republic, a key step in ensuring the top-tier quality and reliability associated with the Somnium VR1 headset.
The fact that the Somnium VR1 is fully designed, developed, and produced in the European Union, specifically in the Czech Republic, is a notable point of pride and strategic advantage.
This centralized process enhances quality control and ensures compliance with the high standards set by EU regulations, leading to a product that symbolizes excellence and reliability.
Choosing to produce locally in the EU allows for stringent oversight of each step of the production process, from initial design to final manufacturing. This ensures that every unit of the VR1 is crafted to perfection and lives up to the highest quality expectations. Moreover, local production reduces the overall carbon footprint of the manufacturing process, aligning with environmental sustainability values.
This highly sophisticated production process carried out in the Czech Republic (EU) not only stands as a testament to the craftsmanship and precision involved in creating the VR1 but also solidifies Somnium’s commitment to delivering exceptional quality in the VR industry. This geographical shift in production has added an additional layer of reliability and quality control to the manufacturing process, ensuring that every VR1 headset will consistently meet and exceed the highest standards.
Through the operation of our production facility, Somnium is proud to contribute to local employment in the Czech Republic, creating valuable jobs and fostering growth in the region’s technology sector. In addition, this approach strengthens the European technology industry, fostering innovation and development within the EU. It’s a testament to the skilled workforce within the region and the potential for high-tech manufacturing in the European Union.
Finally, we’re working on a Somnium VR1 web configurator. This will allow users to select exactly the features they need. Whether you want eye tracking but no pass-through, or you’re just looking for just a headset with amazing visuals, or perhaps you want the full package with hand tracking eye tracking and path-through, our configurator will allow you to only pay for what you need or want.
And please remember — the moment you buy Somnium VR1 headset — you fully own it. No hidden licenses, no monthly or yearly subscriptions. No differentiation in use-case whether you are a private individual or an enterprise or a small studio — use this headset the way you want to.
Why is this important? It ensures a level of freedom and flexibility in your interaction with virtual reality. You are not bound by any hidden clauses, and there’s no differentiation of rights based on who you are or what your purpose might be. Your Somnium VR1 headset is a tool for your imagination, entirely under your control. This complete autonomy offers unlimited potential.
In conclusion, updates we’ve been working for Somnium VR1 headset is a step forward in our journey to dramatically improve the PC VR landscape. With improved design, cutting-edge screen and optics, groundbreaking eye tracking, and the best pass-through technology, we’re confident that the VR1 will provide users with an unparalleled virtual reality experience for years to come and all of that for a price which won’t push you to choose between food on the table or a Somnium VR1 headset 😅
We will be releasing more information about the software toolkit, pricing, and exact availability of the Somnium VR1 in the upcoming weeks / months. Our team is dedicated and working relentlessly to ensure that first deliveries will happen in 2023 and that we will bring to you all (and ourselves😜) not just another PC VR headset, but THE BEST CONSUMER PC VR headset on the market. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to push the boundaries of virtual reality technology.
Thank you for being with us on this journey ❤️
P.S. For those who read the whole thing we have a little bonus image — a heat decimation testing kit fit in with multiple heating sensors scatter across the device to precisely measure heat map and curves of our VR1 headset. Enjoy! :D
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