When it comes to public spaces like shops and museums, self-service virtual reality isn’t really a thing yet; first-timers generally need to be told how to put on the headset, how to hold the controllers, and where to stand. And let’s face it, most everyone on the planet is a VR newcomer at this point, meaning you’ll need an attendant to handhold users the entire way through. That’s where South Africa-based EDEN Labs wants to change things up with its enterprise-focused VR headset platform, the Eden Snacker.

The Snacker isn’t meant for the sort of games you might normally think of when VR comes to mind like Beat Saber (2018) or Job Simulator (2016). It doesn’t have controllers, and only features 3DOF head tracking; what it does have is a decidedly more approachable opera glasses-style design that lets you hold the headset with one hand so you can press it to your face without needing a headstrap, which could otherwise ward off some users.

In short, it’s the sort of headset that’s designed for quick jumps into casual VR content like 360 video and photos which ideally finds a home in places like shops, museums, expos—basically anywhere you might want to give the public a more immersive viewpoint but aren’t looking for the whole megillah of a 6DOF platform like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

Based on the standalone VR headset Skyworth S1, a little-known 3DOF headset from the eponymous Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, the platform boasts a total display resolution of 3,840 × 2,160 (1,920 × 2,160 per lens), a LCD clocked at refresh rate of 72Hz—a notably higher resolution than Oculus Go’s 1,280 × 1,440 pixels per-lens LCD panel.

Besides the headset, stand, and detachable hand grip, the platform also includes a tablet-based user station so you can easily pick an experience before popping into VR. This would likely require an attendant, but its easy to imagine a single person handling multiple headsets at a time.

Image courtesy Eden Labs

To wit, the company also produces a self-service model with a touchscreen kiosk that lets users rate the experience, and no doubt comes with on-screen instructions to help users choose an experience. Eden also includes built-in wireless charging so you simply put the headset back in its cradle when you’re done with the VR experience.

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Notably, the stand itself has built-in 4G and 5G-ready support in addition to its Wi-Fi module, basically letting enterprise customers plug it and set it up anywhere and remotely manage content.

Eden Snacker is slated to launch at some point in 2020. An early access sign-up for content makers, brands, businesses and ad agencies is open now at Eden’s website.

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  • Mike Porter

    Maybe I’m missing something but this seems very dumb.

    • aasdfa

      As the article says, these have a home in expos, demos and things of that nature and thats true it does. Companies will jump at any cheap innovative tech to make them stand out and seem innovative as well, and small experiences are a huge way of doing that.

    • vtid

      Let’s put everyone off wanting VR by giving them a shit 3dof first impression. Yeah I’d say that’s dumb.

      • impurekind

        Yeah, the problem I have is that VR is sooo much more than just 360 images/videos and the most basic of 3D experiences. I think stuff like that, at this state, just undersells VR and potentially poisons the well a little bit, as some consumers will see and think it’s cool but never consider that the tech is actually capable of far more than they are experiencing with a very simple VR device like this. And I get that casuals are going to be pretty much blown away with even the most basic stuff in VR, especially if this is their first taste of it, but I want them to be REALLY blown away, to the point they instantly get that VR is the future and basically want to buy into it the moment they take of the headset again. Quest, for me, is a much better balance of all the positives, and it can also do the simple stuff too (just don’t hand them the controllers and start the app for them).

    • Moe Curley

      You are correct. You are missing something.

      • Mike Porter

        I’ve never in my life played Beat Saber.
        If a head strap or halo strap is an issue, a more traditional glasses approach is also possible like Panasonic 220 prototype tried to do or a flipped headphone design like what Avegant Glyph did.
        Still not sure what I’m missing. Holding the headset is simply going to quickly cause fatique to the user’s arm as selfie sticks do even thoug they weigh nothing.

    • dk

      the only use it could have is basically in a museum sitting next to an exhibit and people checking something out for 30-60 sec

  • 3872Orcs

    If it was 6dof and preferably connected wirelessly to a computer I could have understood this. As it stands this only damages the reputation of VR.

    • You’re thinking of it as an immersive entertainment device that you’re engaging with for extended periods of time. This device is aimed at business owners who are trying to use VR as a tool to improve their business, in particular the value of proper scale.
      If I’m an architect trying to show a building mock to a prospective client, having to strap them into a VR headset honestly adds so much friction to the process as to be a nonstarter. In that kind of scenario, you’re using the device for a few minutes and then you’re done, or you might dip in and out as the meeting goes along.

      If it’s a simple viewer you hold up to your face and the process of starting the experience is super streamlined, it becomes something much more useful in that kind of environment. Clients get a much better idea of what the end result will be, and can give important feedback that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to provide.

      • would be much better to at least have one wireless controller though, as it stands it’s pretty much just a portable screen.

    • brandon9271

      Not 6DOF?! Why any modern VR device not be? That’s really dumb. It’s not 2010.

  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    Wasn’t HP Reverb supposed to be ‘snackable’?

    It has outside tracking so it would be 6dof by default. Strange they went with S1 instead.

  • 144Hz

    This headset would be great for vr porn.

  • MW

    I dont get it. For this purpose Quest is better in every way. With this device we are not talking about vr, but more about fancier Google cardboard.

  • Jistuce

    That’s not at all what doomed the Virtual Boy.

    The 4-bit monochrome display, highly-perceptible flicker, and limited processing power were. That you had to stick a face into it was not really an issue, though it was far from the initial goal. But hey, by all accounts, latency on the strap-on prototypes was bad enough that it was never going to be viable anyways, so no great loss.

    (Nintendo higher-ups forbade a strap-on solution due to then-recent japanese consumer safety laws that basically put the manufacturer on the hook for any injury arising from use of a product, no matter how dumb the user was. They wanted to make sure people didn’t walk around while blinded by video games.)

    • Mike Porter

      “That you had to stick a face into it was not really an issue” – looks like you’re not really speaking from exprience. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8afb5a41b993844e059bcdcbac186d07b45158b80b9e201080c32f4fe976038d.gif

      • Jistuce

        Unlike you, I own a Virtual Boy, and have since the thing went on clearance. I’m also aware of the library’s limitations, as well as the hardware’s. And have a reasonable recollection of discussions at the time. The system was well-known as “just a red GameBoy”, whether it strapped to your face or not was irrelevant to popular perception.

        And unlike AVGN, I’m not an idiot.

        • Mike Porter

          “Unlike you, I own a Virtual Boy” – we have a psychic over here.

          AVGN is a character, so Is JonTronShow,
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a26e68cd6bf43990da6de1e12225bdd37f04a67e4b0c8271269d74dba95c2a7.jpg

          You assuming otherwise makes you an idiot.
          But there’s truth in every joke.

          You made a claim that “That you had to stick a face into it was not really an issue” – it was a huge issue. You don’t need head or rotation tracking for head strap to be useful. Have you ever heard of Avegant Glyph? Before claiming you own that too like I do go read about it first. It would be completely an issue if Avegant Glyph had a stand instead of worn on the head, as it was with VB.

          • Jistuce

            I’ve never heard of Avegant Glyph. Looking it up, it appears to be one of those face-mounted televisions that crop up every couple of years since like 1990, then go nowhere.

            I just don’t see how a strap was ever in the top five things wrong with the Veeb, much less the one thing, the only thing, that killed it. In point of fact, given the limits of the system, a head strap would have been a detriment. The “red Gameboy” impression was devastating, particularly since it cost so much. Any other issue was an also-ran.

  • impurekind

    Wells here’s a kinda pointless and gimmicky VR headset that’s only real potential is to sour the water imo. If you want to show a casual something simple them just put a Quest on their head and put on a simple VR experience that doesn’t require the controllers. You don’t need a whole new dedicated VR headset that pretty much ONLY does that and nothing else. This is just a much more expensive version of Google Cardboard–it’s basically a stereoscopic viewfinder for 3D images/movies, some very basic VR experiences, and little more–and VR has moved past that now. Here’s a great example of someone fixing a “problem” that doesn’t really exist as far as I’m concerned.

    Edit: Wait, if the product is just the grip thing then that’s totally fine, but if it’s a whole new VR headset that also uses the grip thing then it’s just not necessary, unless it really is just for brands, businesses, ad agencies and creators. As a consumer product though, it’s not needed.

  • Cragheart

    then don’t fool people that you look better than you really look with makeup or carefully prepared hairstyle, it’s dumb, wait for genetic engineering to really improve looks

  • I would think a device like this sits in that grey area between VR and a simple viewer. If you really needed to allow the user to, say, navigate a space on their own, you’d have to use a node based teleport activated by a gaze reticle.
    But I do think experiences that suit this device are incredibly simple in nature, geared more toward showing someone something in a way that’s much more natural and intuitive than traditional content.
    We tend to forget just how functional proper stereo depth across a large FOV is when conveying what something is or was like to other people.
    Sometimes you just have to “be there” to get it and a device like this provides that very easily.

  • Ardra Diva

    I think it is designed for more public use like museums, and it definitely needs to be easy to view and easy to disengage in that setting.

  • Atul Salgaonkar

    All viewing devices -such as this or more conventional VR headsets – need to be cleaned between users, not so much for makeup but for infection control. Actually this is a huge concern in LBE places like The Void or Sandbox where the users are sweating and in a closed environ – and one of the reasons why (at least in US) all users have to sign legal waivers before starting.

  • This is a very original idea, that may have sense in some contexts, like for istance in exhibitions where people want to show 360 videos.

    Regarding the Skyworth… I have reviewed the 901 model on my blog… very nice resolution, but there was huge chromatic aberration. I hope this model is better