It’s been an interesting and somewhat sordid 24 hours since we broke the news a company supposedly called ‘Horizon VR’ who claimed that not only that they had a brand new VR Headset that comprised 2 x 4k / UHD screens, 2 x 2k front facing cameras and a whopping 210 degree field of view but that their product would be ready to ship in January.
Alarm bells rang and we dug a little deeper, noting some irregularities with the website – most notably the use of a modified product concept render directly lifted from the very real and very genuine InfinitEye team. What’s more, the Horizon V specification bore a striking resemblance to InfinitEye’s excellent HMD. Dual, discrete display panels, 210 degree horizontal FOV fed by dual HDMI cables – this all looked a little too close for comfort.
We wrote to Stephane Portes of team InfinitEye who in no uncertain terms condemned the use of their rendered imagery and confirmed they were in no way affiliated with Horizon VR and were understandably upset at someone potentially tarnishing their good name.
We emailed Horizon VR using the contact form on the website and received a somewhat staccato response from a Kevin Geiger, apparently CEO of Horizon VR. He claimed that he was bewildered by the apparent storm of interest they’d received, when they realised their work-in-progress website was actually live and being indexed by Google – bringing as it did a swarm of VR enthusiasts to the website.
Kevin went on to state that the specifications on the website “aren’t right” and the claimed delivery date of Jan 2015 was “not correct yet” stating that May 2015 was their intended target. A portion of the email is quoted below:
Firstly our website has been up for three days- in ‘test’ mode, though we
started accepting preorders for our project. Though we are confident in
in the design, some of our specs are incorrect- we simply weren’t prepared
for the enormous interest so quickly, and we’re a bit in damage control at
this point- so some things are in the process of being rapidly updated.
A short answer is, we’re not yet ready- our site was put up in a hurry and
we need to hold off on any publicity until we can straighten some things
out. Might take it down until then- but google is already indexing us,
etc. and we’d hate to abandon any interest.
And when challenged about the use of InfinitEye’s imagery:
About the Infiniteye ‘similar’ image, yep- good eye- the infiniteye which
is a great idea in many ways, but it’s a placeholder until ours is
eye-friendly. It was simply a concept if you will until our unit is
ready. It’s currently a mass of 3d printed plastic at this point- the
photo is simply representational, and we’ll be changing it soon with our
own. Didn’t intend for people to see it in three days, but google indexed
us almost immediately. -There are some differances in the head strap
design for example though where we go thinner than them to cut down on
weight, and also ours will likely be more ‘blocky’.
Most worryingly though, the payment gateway portion of the site was partially functional (accepting Bitcoin and Paypal only), Kevin claimed they’d received some 500 orders already. Based on the lowest price tier, the deposit at $399, that’s a cool $199,500 in less than 3 days! When we suggested that they should disable the payment gateway immediately until the facts were straightened out, Kevin responded “As recommended we’ll be removing the pre-order option for the moment.” That response was 7 hours ago and as of writing this, the pre-order page seems still fully functional, presumably continuing to accept payments.
We suggested that the team also visited the /r/oculus subreddit to try and engage with the concerned VR Community and try to explain their situation. Kevin did so, reiterating much that was in the email received initially by us. With an additional answer to my query as to proof that the company’s legitimacy, to this Kevin Geiger responded: “Yep, started the company from our garages in the winter of this year (Rift, anyone?) Check back in a week the secretary of state pages for the business listing.”
What we Know
The VR community kicked into gear and tried to sniff out what facts they could. First up, we noticed something odd when checking they’re (very) recent domain registration used on the website:
Domain Name: HORIZON4K.COM Registrar: PDR LTD. D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM Whois Server: whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com Referral URL: http://www.PublicDomainRegistry.com Name Server: NS33.ALTUSHOST.COM Name Server: NS34.ALTUSHOST.COM Status: clientTransferProhibited Updated Date: 18-jun-2014 Creation Date: 18-jun-2014 Expiration Date: 18-jun-2015
The domain was freshly registered just 6 days ago. Seems like a quick turnaround between deciding a product name, company name and registering.
Next up ‘thebloodshed’ on /r/oculus noted that the company address used at the foot of the page, “4800 Hampden Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814” – seems to be the address of a recruitment agency called Hire Strategy.
User ‘bilago’ noted that the staff photos were lifted from elsewhere on the web, this goes for the entire supposed Horizon VR team. And the ever diligent ‘BOLL7708’ pointed out numerous inconsistencies including the motion tracking IR LEDs added sloppily to the InfinitEye render.
There is still a chance that this whole affair is a monumental administrative bungle, but with the evidence above we’re repeating what we said in our original report, do not buy from this website!
We’ll continue to look at new evidence as it arrives and liaise with the alleged Kevin Geiger from Horizon VR on what on earth is going on – we’ll keep you in the loop.