See Also: First Look: The Void’s 2K ‘Rapture’ VR Headset with Curved OLED Displays

Here’s an early look at the first version of Rapture, the VR headset you’ll use when you enter The Void virtual reality attraction, opening to the public next year. Packing dual curved OLED displays, it’s a serious looking piece of kit.

We’ve been following The Void, a virtual reality entertainment destination, from the start. We brought you breaking news of the attraction’s existence earlier in the year and then the first hands-on taste of what to expect when you step inside.

See Also: First Hands-on: The VOID, a Mixed Reality Experience That Blends Real and Virtual

Up to now The Void, which aims to fuse both virtual and physical experiences played out in custom-built arenas, has been demonstrated on retro-fitted Oculus Rift DK2 headsets. The Void’s custom tracking system being tacked onto the player’s backtop-powered experience whilst the company worked quietly on perhaps one of their biggest selling points: a custom designed and built VR headset which aims to deliver what the company hopes will be a superior VR experience. It’s called Rapture and the company behind the new hardware has released the first image of a working prototype, in all its naked glory.

Rapture-NAKED-full

The Void presented recently at Dutch VR Days conference and went into some of the technology behind the experience, so we know some details about the VR headset.

Ken Bretschneider, founder of The Void, says he personally contributed $250,000 into the development of Rapture, a device he’s clearly quite proud of. Packing dual curved OLED displays, the headset purportedly delivers a 2K per-eye resolution and with that unique display form factor, a claimed 180 degree field of view. Although it’s impossible to accurately compare, as methods for measuring such things are yet to be standardised, the Rift DK2 offers an FOV of around 100 degrees. An impressive upgrade if the optics can thwart what must be some extreme optical challenges.

In order to deal with artefacts of their unusual display setup, the company says they’ve developed custom dual-lens optics. Bretschneider claims that the combination of displays and optics deliver stereo overlap of 53 degrees.

The video below shows Bretschneider sharing some details of the headset at the Dutch VR Days (starting at 53 minutes):

Speaking to the advantage The Void has over consumer hardware—namely, a lack restrictive retail price target—The Void’s designers packed ‘high end’ headphones, in this case from Bang and Olufsen, which deliver binaural audio to the player. Integrated microphones top off the hardware list, important for The Void’s intended multi-player experiences.

See Also: VR Theme Park ‘The VOID’ Begins Beta Testing, Reservations “Sold Out within Hours”

The Void is trialling beta experiences right now, although reservations for the remainder of the year’s sessions sold out within hours of going on sale. It’s not yet clear if those trials will include the new Rapture headsets as part of the experience.

This hardware is still in prototype form as The Void team continues to create its ambitious inaugural VR attraction based in Salt Lake City, Utah, due to open at some point in 2016. No precise dates on when you’ll be able to book your first date with the Rapture VR headset, but we can’t wait to get a taste of a VR backed by hardware built without the restrictions of consumer pricing.


Additional reporting provided by Chris Madsen

 

  • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

    I’ve done some Void beta experiences, and even with the DK2 it was absolutely stunning. For me, I’m never quite able to get past the limited resolution and SDE of the DK2 or Gear VR. However, because of the awesome experience that the Void provides (exploring a massive 1:1 world that perfectly matches what you’re seeing, even though you’re in a relatively small room) caused the resolution/SDE to completely disappear for me in the first minute or two. From then on, I mostly forgot I was wearing an HMD. It’s really compelling. If they can get a substantial visual quality improvement with their own headset it will be mind-blowing, and the specs sound promising. Can’t wait to try another beta experience with the new HMD!

    • Orangeunderpants

      Problem is it’s something u have to travel and pay to use for a short time. My experience with Oculus is the opposite. The only thing I’ve found to be unplayable because it needs increased resolution is DCS world. Everything else looks amazing with Oculus DK2.

      • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

        It’s not a competitor for the CV1. Obviously, people will want home-based units (myself included.) However, I like the idea of a location-based “VR Theme Park” that is pushing the limits of what’s possible, and can overspend on the HMD and test out experiences that cannot be achieved in the house. Some of the ideas and concepts they develop (like wider FoV) will eventually filter down to less expensive home HMDs, while others (large-volume room tracking, redirection, etc.) won’t. I’m fine with that.

        • Orangeunderpants

          Agree. I do think such theme parks can only be a good thing for the future of VR. I believe Disney will be introducing VR to their attractions in the future.

    • hobel

      How did the body and finger tracking work, in your experience? Did you feel like your body and hands were inside the virtual world, or did it feel disconnected in some way? I think that’s key to the sensation of “presence”, besides the visual aspect.

      • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

        There was no finger tracking. There obvious tracking points on the helmet and backpack/chest rig for head and body tracking, and there were tracking points on the gun you were carrying in the shooter experiences. The tracking cameras that were watching these were in a grid on the ceiling. In my experiences, the head location and orientation tracking was perfect, and the tracking of the gun was so good that I could easily aim using the front and rear sight. When you’re holding a gun with both hands (it was a larger gun) there’s no real need for hand tracking.

        • hobel

          interesting. According to the presentation in the video, they seem to be working on body and finger tracking, which I’m pretty excited about. So, I assume you did not see an avatar representation of your own body while playing?

          • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

            They have said they are working on “wireless gloves” but these are not used in the current beta experiences.

            I distinctly remember a body in the shooter demo (the sci-fi one) but I’m wracking my brain trying to remember if I could see (a virtual representation of) my own body in the mayan temple demo, and I can’t remember. I do know that I could at least see my hands. The reason I know this is there is a point where you enter a dark cave and there’s a torch on the wall that you need to reach out and grab. It was EXACTLY where I expected it to be, and picking it up and carrying it worked perfectly. (It was also a heat source– I could feel heat coming off it. Very cool.)

            In the sci-fi one, it matched well enough not to break the illusion. Since I was holding a gun with both hands, though, it seems like inverse kinematics would have been enough to deliver on this since you know the location of both hands… there was never really a reason to take your hands off the weapon, but it did have button sensors to know when/where you were holding it.

          • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

            I should point out it’s difficult to collect my memories on this– even though it’s only been a couple weeks– because I’m having trouble convincing my brain the experience wasn’t real. Not intellectually, obviously, but the further I get away from the experience the less it seems to have been VR and not actual R.

          • kalqlate

            Interesting observation! I’ve often thought that when VR gets good enough, people will have all kinds of recollections of events that they think are from the real world but actually occurred in VR. In the case of VR tourism, there will be lots of deja vu moments when people visit places in real life that they had only previously visited in VR. Something like The Void with the so-called 5-D experience will make that even more of a possibility. Lucid dreams don’t cause this problem because they are bounded by two periods of conscious activity. In comparison, a VR experience will occur WITHIN a single period of conscious activity.

          • Paul Jensen

            I did Void with my brother and the memory that sticks with me is watching him turn into a giant chrome robot and then talking to me. It was unbelievable

          • hobel

            I envy you for having had the beta experience, and as you mentioned, the final thing will probably be even better. The only VR hands on experience I’ve had so far has been a first gen Gear VR in a store. I have to say it was a terrible experience, and kind of off-putting – it actually felt like staring at a screen stuck to your face, not like looking at a virtual space. Can’t wait to try devices that have high res, wide field of view, positional tracking, all the good stuff.

          • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

            You will be waiting a while, then. Both of the big-name HMD devices coming in early 2016 (Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) are lower resolution than the Gear VR. They are better than the Gear in other ways (positional tracking being the most critical, but also rendering capabilities of the underlying compiluter, higher frame rates, better optics that reduce SDE, etc.)

            Presumably the second or third generation will start meaningfully increasing resolution.

          • polysix

            They are lower res screens, sure, but they actually appear as good (res wise) due to better optics, so I read. In other words GearVR is just badly thought out and ill fitting for VR from the start. There’s more to the perception of quality than just the pure resolution, and by all accounts Gear VR actually feels “Lower res” to many even though technically it’s higher (due again to worse optics, screen not made for VR etc)??

            I’m talking about in comparison to Vive and Rift Consumer versions of course.

            Either way I can’t wait to get my Vive system. Not interested in rift anymore (thanks to u-turns, lies and gamepads). My Dk2 + gamepad was enough of that kind of VR for me, if I’m spending over $500 in 2016 I want a compelling experience (Vive) not just an improved version of what I’ve had the past 18 months or w/e.

          • http://jrj.org Joseph R. Jones

            Glad to hear what you’ve read, but as someone who owns and regularly uses both a Gear VR and a DK2, and has spent time in both a Vive and CV1, I assure you that the GearVR is slightly higher resolution and is objectively better for certain kinds of viewing (but the CV1 is subjectively better due to less pronounced SDE.) it’s true that even the DK2 has better optics, resulting in a much better sweet spot and fewer lens-related artifacts (and those that ARE present can be more effectively digitally corrected due to the more consistent lenses.) But there are few scenarios where a DK2 looks as good or better than a Gear when viewing identical content (obviously the better rendering power of a PC compared to a smartphone means you can view much better looking content in an Oculus.)

            The CV1 definitely controls SDE quite effectively– they have not been specific on what they are doing, other than to say that it relates to paired screen and optics. I’ve theorized that they might be etching a pattern into the lenses that diffuses sub pixels, but that’s just a guess based on the appearance. However, even without as pronounced an SDE, it’s still relativey low resolution, noticed most when trying to resolve fine detail in a scene. Admittedly, if given a choice between lower resolution with less SDE or higher res with more SDE, I prefer less SDE for most entertainment scenarios.

            The Vive (note: I’ve not yet tried the Pre, which is supposed to help a bit) the lens issues (concentric circles, mura, etc.) are much more pronounced. I definitely prefer the CV1. (Again, though, I haven’t yet tried a Pre, so it’s an unfair comparison.)

            It is my hope that the second or third generation of these devices will be much higher resolution– minimum 4K, ideally approaching 4K per eye. The problem is availability of high quality low-latency OLED panels, and the inability of even the best graphics cards to render those resolutions in stereo at 90fps or higher. Give it a couple years, but in the mean time these are great first-gen devices, and when the content is good their limitations mostly fade away.

  • Denis Koroskin

    Why not use Vive+laptop-on-a-back combo for a 100% untethered experience? Developing custom headset is such a huge waste of money!

    • Proyb P

      Have you been as a Void beta tester before claiming a huge waste of money? Why not saying Morpheus and Oculus Rift are wasting money too?

      Out of production for Vive and having no part to repair will be a huge waste of money if you knew how Abbey Recording Studio works.

      • Denis Koroskin

        I am not saying their product will be bad, I’m sure it will be awesome! Just because they need an HMD doesn’t mean they need to develop one themselves. What if they needed a tablet? Would it make sense to develop custom OS, custom UI, custom hardware, too, or grab one of the thousands Android/iOS tablets available for no R&D cost?

        • Bryan Ischo

          Yes, it would make sense for them to develop their own tablet if a) the state of the tablet industry was nascent and there were no adequate tablets in production, and b) their entire success hinged very heavily on the quality of the tablet they used.

          While the state of the tablet industry is not as described in (a), the state of the VR industry is. And while their success has nothing to with tablets as in (b), it has everything to do with VR headsets.

          Your hypothetical actually supports their actions.

          • Jetch Vargas

            i have to agree with @deniskoroskin:disqus. Not only do they have to develope hardware that will cost a fortune to make ( compared to mass productions of the rift, valve,etc.) they also have to make special software for it. How many games or interactions do you think they can make in a year? what will be the cost per entrance for them to recover the investment. You dont see Apple or Samsung making every chip and electronics they go out and find what is available in the market. And by the time they finish making a game and all that they need there will probably be an oculus rift 2 or something.

          • Bryan Ischo

            You did know that Apple makes their own mobile CPU right? And that the argument could have and was made in opposition to the idea that they needed to make their own when there were already stock ARM chips they could use.

            No, not every company fabricates every component they need for their product. But when there is no ready-made component that fulfills the core need of your business, it’s perfectly rational to make one.

          • Proyb P

            We aren’t sure but for sure, there are many keyboards and proaudio gears. For hardware engineers, hardware is an easy part, they might have licensed some hardware that are ready made and can be customize, a know a few of the most advanced technology that is not willing to announce in the market.

            I think if some are truly talented inventors, they can develop something that differential from competitors.

        • brandon9271

          You’re looking at this the wrong way.. They plan on charging admission for the experience. If it was an off the shelf VR headset that anyone can go buy then nobody would pay them for the experience. Is has to be custom hardware and software that is inaccessible to the public through any means except them. It’s like someone else said about video arcades of the 80s and 90s, the $199 home consoles at the time couldn’t provide the same gaming experience as a $10,000 arcade machine. The Void is aiming for that type of experience.

          • Proyb P

            I see they can earn back from franchisers models once they plan to have a spot in every parts of the world. Let them try, if they success then they get it, if they failed then we know what consumer wants, if you never try, you never try.

    • JD

      The Vive is made for consumers to purchase. The Vive and all consumer VR headsets have to make sacrifices to make it cheaper for the consumer. The void headset is probably never to be sold to consumers, but if it was going to it would be $1000+. There is no limit to the cost of the headset due to it never being sold, and as such there’s no sacrifices made to it. They can make it 10x better than any consumer headset just by buying higher quality parts and spending more money.

    • Sibbo

      In the hay day of the the Arcades we we had our spectrums, Amigas, Megadrives etc emulating an arcade experience at home at a lower level but still gave enjoyment. For a social, full on, moving cabinet, state of the art experience we went to the arcade and paid money to do it. As hardware got cheaper and more powerful the reason for going to the arcade died.

      I see parallels with something like this. Buy a Vive or Oculus for a compelling home experience that will always have certain limitations but for an uncompromising, fuller, immersive experience, visit a place like this as it really is something that cannot truly be experienced at home and therefore will not necessarily go the way of the arcades.

      A similiar concept worked for a while with laserquest but that always had a limitation to the experience it could offer. There are no such limitations with VR, you can get any experience you want.

    • Mark

      Rather than creating a ~$300 dollar headset they can create one that is much much better, they’re not looking to target a consumer price they are trying to make the best technology possible. Oculus and Valve have both stated they have HMDs vastly better than their first consumer products. If you only need to make a few you can make something superior.

    • ThreeRing

      Because their idea is to move around a completely custom maze type environment, the Vive and Rift are probably just not good enough for them. They need to provide a SUPERIOR VR experience that you can’t afford to own but can afford to use.

    • hobel

      i think he talked a little about that in the video embedded in the video. Their headset features a wider field of view than other headsets, which they think is critical for the experience. And also, they need the headset to be more robust physically, because the experience will involve lots of moving around. And lastly, they need to implement a custom tracking system, because this experience will require more complex tracking than oculus or vive (multiple headsets, limbs and guns all being tracked simultaneously in a complex set of rooms)

  • TC_Orygun

    These guys seem really on top of it, with lots of great ideas. I really hope they can put it all together.

    • Paul Jensen

      They will James has been planning this for almost 20 years and pretty much everyone at Void is amazing, different and forward thinking

  • mellott124

    They should sell the HMD. Regardless of the price it’s the only game in time with those kinds of specs.

    • kalqlate

      I’d like that too, but then that would be a whole other business for them as content for The Void would not translate easily or at all to just the HMD. They’d have to create and manage a separate company the size of Oculus with all the content relations. Further, to properly power two 2K displays at 90 to 120 Hz, you’re talking two top-of-the-line GPU cards at minimum, upping the price of entry considerably, and thereby lowering market potential significantly. Not a profitable proposition.

      • mellott124

        That could be true for some but plenty of us have high end machines. Content generation isn’t always a problem either. Especially for companies who could afford to buy this HMD.

        • kalqlate

          Sorry, but “plenty of us” is not enough for a company to make projections of profitability on. That’s why you’ll just have to wait for Oculus, Valve/HTC, and others to evolve their consumer-market products over time as the cost of high-end systems required for the higher spec HMDs continues to lessen in price. Expect Void quality in the consumer marker in three to five years.

          • mellott124

            I disagree. They’re already likely in a low volume high cost market if the plan is to do simulation centers. There are other markets/applications outside of consumer that could also purchase their HMD. This would only help them with cost of their current product and help accelerate the technology to the consumer sector.

          • kalqlate

            “low volume high cost” …high use, low cost of operation, high profit.. “market”. There, fixed that for you.

            “I disagree.” OK.

    • HKtechnician

      If other companies like Oculus/HTC/Void/etc. took a look at emerging innovations that are currently available, solutions can be found. For example: The FOVE HMD Kickstarter. If these big name companies incorporate Foveated Rendering into their products, then they can drastically reduce the horsepower required to produce very high resolution dynamic images, simply by altering and prioritizing the rendering scripts.

  • arnold475

    I wonder how their custom built HMD stacks up to StarVR’s headset. By the looks of the provided specs it doesn’t seem to be that much better, and maybe even a little worse than StarVR.

    • kalqlate

      Your eyes have overlapping field of view all the way to the bridge of the nose. Curved screens can give you more of an overlapping field of view (as they curve into the bridge) than flat screens (that can’t curve into the bridge).

  • hobel

    They seem like a really skilled company, I think the Void will be great. Glad to see that it’s coming to my country as well (Austria).
    What makes me sad though is the thought that within a decade or so this type of entertainment will not be that exciting to people anymore, because VR will (presumably) be an everyday experience to a lot of people. I hope the company will be able to keep the experience exciting even after VR has become somewhat ubiquitous.

  • http://ianbarkley.com lifeisgood_

    Kurt has given me a tour/demo of the Void experience at their offices in Lindon. I was extremely impressed with their overall hardware vision. Nearly all aspects of their platform are proprietary and I can guarantee that they will find additional ways to monetize the hardware (military, commercial simulation etc). Their body tracking solution is quite precise as well and from the sounds of it, it is only getting better with continual modifications/upgrades. I can’t wait to try the HMD (I only tested with the DK2) as the ‘alpha’ experience was already much better than what I anticipated. I do believe Kurt’s team will be seen as pioneers pushing Oculus, Sony, HTC to up their game on the hardware side. Eventually the consumer brands will need to bite the bullet and treat the hardware as a loss leader (similar to the base consoles) and deliver the market a $600 HMD for a $399 price tag.