With people increasingly working from home, for perhaps long periods of time, VR is having a moment, and that moment includes the upcoming HP Reverb G2 headset.
Amid the stay-at-home orders from COVID-19 and voluntary sheltering precipitated by civil unrest, VR is having a moment. Because of the stay at home in April Steam reported a one million-plus gain in connected users. But it is not clear that the connections were related to work or to avoiding work. Either way, VR is having a moment.
While some current headsets were designed for work, manufacturers still struggle to find a sweet spot, but most headsets will prove adequate for the task over short durations. I forecast, however, that few workers if any will don a current headset at 8 am and make it to lunch before removing it. VR creates virtual worlds in which to work, effectively proxies for work at a distance or substitutes for dangerous or expensive training. However, the technology, not constructively, also isolates people from the real world. An iPhone, for instance, does not work in VR, and alerts pumped through the VR UI provide subpar access compared to well-tested iOS and Android models. VR’s lack of a consistent UI or UX makes developing applications that merge existing models a challenge.
Despite ongoing software challenges, hardware continues to evolve. On May 28, 2020, HP launched the HP Reverb G2, along with collaborators Valve and Microsoft. The HP Reverb G2 will offer one of the highest resolution VR experiences, delivers cutting-edge optics, inside-out tracking, spatial 3D audio, natural gestures, long-wearing comfort, and plug and play support for Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR.
Key elements of the new hardware include:
- 2160 x 2160 mura-free LCD panels (2K by 2K per eye), and a reduced mural full RGB stripe.
- 114-degree field of view.
- Built-in spatial audio provided by 10mm off-the-ear headphones. Software is derived from Microsoft spatial audio, and a new artificial intelligence-based HP Labs spatial audio format, new signal processing, and psychoacoustics.
- 4-camera tracking that employs Windows Mixed Reality inside-out tracking technology for full six-degrees-of-freedom movement.
- New controllers enhanced control features including an optimized button layout, improved application and game compatibility, and the ability pre-pair via Bluetooth® for easy out-of-the-box set-up.
- The 4-camera Window Mixed Reality headset also enables 1.4X more movement capture, maintaining six degrees of freedom without external sensors or lighthouses.
In short, the headset’s features result in more immersive experiences and better tracking of movement within those experiences. HP made the displays clearer as well, eliminating complaints about “foggy” rendering in previous versions. Six degrees-of-freedom, working well, is a key differentiator between real VR experiences and surface-level experiences like 360-degree video. The market will test HP’s approach when the headsets ship this fall.
The Reverb VR Headset G2 will support SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality frameworks. It is scheduled for availability in Fall 2020 for $599 (U.S.).
US pre-orders will be available from May 28, 2020, via HP.com, SteamVR homepage, and select channel partners. Pre-orders for select countries will be available over the next few weeks and months.
HP Reverb VR Headset G2 Product information
|Part number||1N0T4AA, 1G5U1AA#ABA, 1G5U2AA#AB2, 1N0T5AA|
|Dimensions (H x L x W)||(7.5 x 18.6 x 8.4 cm)|
|Weight||1.21 lb (0.55 kg)|
|Kit contents||HP VR Headset, 6m headset cable for desktop and mobile PC’s, 2 motion controllers, 1 DisplayPort to mini-DisplayPort™ adapter, 1 Power Adapter. Setup document.|