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VRgineers’ XTAL isn’t your typical VR headset — the $5,800 device shipped with a 5K display and a wide 170-degree field of view, later upgrading to an even wider 180 degrees using improved lenses. Now the developer is looking to expand the enterprise headset’s appeal by adding AR capabilities: A new optional module will add twin wide-angle cameras and new sensors, bringing inside-out tracking, hand tracking, and VR/AR switching to the HMD.
As one might guess from the price and specs, XTAL isn’t a consumer VR device; it’s made specifically for businesses with serious visualization demands. VRgineers says that the new AR module will enable it to be “the most advanced mixed reality (MR) system ever created, and the only enterprise-grade MR system capable of total immersion.” It’s already quite large and boxy, but thankfully won’t become much heavier: The unmodified headset weighs 2.67 pounds including a head strap and balance counterweight, but the module will add only 42 grams, bringing it to 2.76 pounds.
After the module is installed, users will be able to toggle between VR and AR modes, with the ability to see their hands interacting with real objects inside digitally generated environments — or vice-versa. The company notes that the module will especially expand XTAL’s utility in confined environments such as cars, airplane cockpits, or simulators where mounting outside-in cameras may be difficult, but that the headset will continue to support both options, as well as Leap Motion hand tracking.
A video demonstration of the inside-out tracking capability shows XTAL identifying and mapping actual objects in a real space (inset) while displaying a nearly photorealistic augmented version to the user. Used for retail or architectural visualization, the system could allow users to perceive fancier objects and decor than what’s actually there, yet interact with physically similar base items.
VRgineers expects that it will enable next-level immersion for mission-critical applications such as pilot training. “Thanks to the camera module,” the Prague-based company notes, “it will also be possible to display a real cockpit with real hands, and to connect real stickers, steering wheel and all switchings with the virtual environment. Thanks to this, pilots will have a real haptic feedback and a perfect visual.”
VRgineers hasn’t yet revealed a final release date or pricing for the AR module, but it will be sourcing a beta version to select aerospace, automotive, and simulation partners later this year. Developers interested in joining the beta can contact VRgineers at email@example.com.
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