OSVR’s Hacker Developer Kit (HDK) VR headset has started shipping units to early supporters. We take a peek at some potential future upgrades, including Wearality Sky 150 degree FoV lenses and an Android phone holder faceplate.

Hard to believe OSVR is only a little over 6 months old. Launched at CES this year, the Razer backed initiative positioned itself to be ‘the Android of virtual reality’, an open source and entirely hackable VR platform.

Well, after multiple iterations and a decent ground swell of industry partners announced, the HDK (Hacker Developer Kit) is finally shipping to early adopters. And, for those who haven’t jumped in with a pre-order yet, the new OSVR website is now fully enabled, allowing you to assemble your HDK from 3 base units (1 LCD based (v1.0), the other OLED (v1.1/1.2)) with add-ons such as LED positional tracking faceplates and high-comfort face interface padding selectable during checkout.

We caught up with Chris Mitchell, Razer’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, at E3 last month and he gave us a sneak peek at some new hardware – including an HDK sporting the new 100Hz IR LED face plate and IR ‘back box’ for 360 positional tracking and IR LED faceplate.

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An OSVR HDK sporting IR LED array box at the rear for 360 positional tracking

Also interesting to see, and entirely in keeping with the HDK’s hack-it-up ethos, was a headset with a set of Wearality Sky 150 degree FoV lenses fitted to it. It was purely something the team had played with, to demonstrate the versatility of the HDK.

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An early prototype featuring Wearality 150 degree FoV lenses fitted
An early prototype featuring Wearality 150 degree FoV lenses fitted

Although not officially partnering with Wearality at this stage, Mitchell told me that they’d like to give consumers the option to ship Wearality optics and get feedback. “At the end of the day, the entire HDK is an experiment”.

Not content with that, Mitchell also showed me their mobile phone holder face plate, a neat clip-in holder for your choice of Android mobile phone complete with faceplate ‘window’ for smartphone cameras – with the potential for pass-through camera support. Currently development is focussed on their recently announced Android OS support, but Mitchell states they’re very interested in other mobile OSes in the future.

So how is the OSVR movement shaping up? Razer says that OSVR is now at 145 partners and counting. There does seem to be a desire within the industry and community to see OSVR happen. Mitchell is cautious though of managing consumer’s expectations of the HDK, saying that the HDK is not yet at the stage where it can deliver a polished VR experience.

It’s amazing to see how far OSVR and it’s HDK has come since January. It’s also reassuring to hear the collectives awareness that they’re not intending to position or compete with the forthcoming consumer VR headsets from the likes of Oculus and Valve / HTC at least initially. The potential for experimentation and discovery is the ethos behind OSVR, and the movement is certainly fulfilling this remit.