This latest HMD is around $522 for the consumer version and $656 for the enterprise version and users could get discounts during its crowdfunding period. The resolution is 1080*1200 per eye, lower than the prototype presented during CES early this year due to the screen being changed to OLED from LCD. The field of view is 110 degrees with 90 Hz refresh rate. The enterprise version will include the IR camera and room based tracker based on retro-reflective IR fiducial markers called HoloDeck. Also AntVR announced it will partner with SteamVR and OSVR to allow users access diverse VR games. Besides this partnership to guarantee diverse games content, AntVR will develop in-house VR games as well and offer VR game solutions to other developers.
AntVR drew attention due to its bundling partnership with Lenovo for the AntVR TAW with Vibe K4 Note. Despite the attractive lower price, the devices failed to offer performance competitive to Samsung’s Gear VR and the S6. The design of the Ant VR TAW offers portability with its folding structure but with the two gaming holes at both sides it cannot give the full immersive experience. Additionally, motion sickness and eye fatigue develop quickly due to the display mechanism using two split screens to form a widescreen view. Additionally, with no controller all the movement within game is captured through eye tracking, but the tracking technology is not mature enough to accurately capture eye movement. As a result of the poor feedback on the mobile adapter, AntVR has started to focus on integrated devices.
The partnership with Steam implies users will have full access to VR games on Steam. After gamers complained of few high-quality games available on locally developed devices, AntVR developed initiatives such as this partership to attract this hard-core user base. Also among the three major integrated HMDs, HTC Vive is the only one legally available in China. With the same games portfolio but much lower price, AntVR has added some chips to compete directly with HTC for the high-end market. However, the biggest challenge for the partnership in China is that whether Steam will be banned without official censorship approval when the government introduces more regulations on Internet industry.
AntVR’s position tracking solution uses an IR camera on the front of its HMD and a so-called ‘inside-out’ room tracking system based on retro-reflective IR fiducial markers on the carpet called ‘HoloDeck’. Compared to an external camera, the HoloDeck is cheap and provides more accurate positional tracking. And this extensive positional tracking capability enables a freer moving VR content experience. However, the HoloDeck is for the enterprise version only so consumers are unlikely to use it at home, which limits the application of the devices.
Indeed, the enterprise version is targeted at VR experiences at ‘Pavilions’, that are designed specifically for users to experience virtual reality. This kind of space allows consumers to understand virtual reality and hopefully spark their interest. Also compared to the expense of purchasing VR devices, one-off passes to the Pavilion are more acceptable for mass consumers.