GameFace Labs, a company that’s been in ongoing development of an ambitious standalone VR headset over the last few years, has finally opened pre-orders for its dev kit, a system built around NVIDIA’s powerful Jetson TX2 computing platform. Priced at $600, the device is fully self-contained running a custom Android operating system, but can also be tethered to a PC for full compatibility with SteamVR content, including support for SteamVR Tracking.

GameFace Labs has been working on its vision of the ultimate standalone VR headset for several years, and while the company missed its former goal of getting dev kits in developers hands by the end of 2017, they appear closer than ever to getting something out the door. Today the company announced the start of pre-orders for its dev kit, priced at $600, which is says will begin shipping out in just a few weeks time. The company expects the consumer version of the headset to launch toward the end of 2018, and tells Road to VR that developers who purchase the dev kit will also be sent a consumer unit when complete.

The GameFace dev kit is built around NVIDIA’s Jetson TX2 module, a powerful system designed for AI-heavy devices, which includes a pair of 2GHz CPUs and a Pascal-based GPU with 256 CUDA cores, all together rated for 7.5W TDP. That’s some heavy duty computing power compared to other standalone headsets available today—though we’re curious to know what battery life will end up looking like.

And while the headset is shaping up to be a powerhouse of its own, GameFace calls the device a “hybrid,” and says it’ll be the first such headset which can also be tethered to a host PC to natively play SteamVR content thanks to its built-in SteamVR Tracking hardware. Last year the company demonstrated the headset’s SteamVR Tracking tech to Road to VR, which can track the headset while being used for tethered SteamVR content or standalone content run locally on the headset via Android.

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The GameFace Labs dev kit might seem a bit odd compared to other standalone headsets on the market today, but could prove to be a compelling buy for developers—at $600, a single headset which could be used for both mobile and tethered VR development could offer value compared to buying separate headsets for developing on each. And for consumers, the ability to play content across Android and PC ecosystems with a single device would be a standout feature next to other headsets available today—though GameFace will either need to build strong developer traction for its own mobile content ecosystem, or link up with Google (Daydream) or HTC (Viveport mobile) ecosystems to have easy access to compelling content on the mobile side.

Developers interested in the dev kit can pre-order by signing up to become a GameFace Labs developer, though requests will be selectively approved by the company for the time being. The company says developers won’t be charged until their headset ships, and expects that to begin in the next few weeks.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Arashi

    The article doesn’t mention the key feature: it has two 1440p panels, so higher resolution than anything that’s on the market right now.

    • Konchu

      Interesting I was looking cause wasn’t sure on the screen on this I see an article that it has 2x 2550×1400 screens but only 120 FOV so I am curious if they are doing a taller ratio or distorting(aka Squeezing) the screen focusing it to help with Screen door. Odd to see 2 x the screen for 10 degrees extra basically.

      • Laurence Nairne

        Yeah I expect they’re just increasing the pixel density to reduce stuff like SDE and just make it look better. Dramatically increasing FOV is still a relatively expensive (technically and economically) endeavour, and I’ll be interested to see how Pimax get on when they finally do release their latest.

  • Christopher Stockman

    What control method is used in standalone mode?

    • Touch-like controllers, I would imagine.

  • Dylan

    YES YES YES FINALLY. I’ve been shouting this about compatibility from the rooftops for THREE YEARS. Portable VR is FINE AND GOOD, but ADDING TETHERED STEAMVR IS EASY AND A GREAT WAY TO EARN CUSTOMERS. Vr should be an accessory, like a monitor keyboard and mouse not a platform, like a console. The headsets that see success are the ones that support the widest variety of content, full stop. Why the 6dof daydream device released recently doesn’t have tethered passthrough is beyond me.

    • Jordan_c

      I agree entirely. The wall garden policy is destroying adoption rates on pc because of lack of decent native content for any one device and the high price tag of headsets.

    • brandon9271

      ME TOO!! I remember getting in a heated argument with some knucklehead who said such technology “didn’t exist” lol Well, here it is because the tech DOES exist and the reason such a device hasn’t been made is because companies like Google and Facebook want to keep you in their walled garden.

  • Cdaked

    But they don’t talk about the eye tracking they were studying to add, nor about the leap motion.

  • No mention of OS, but knowing my own experience with the TX2 having no Android SDK, my guess is this is Linux with OpenVR, which makes a great deal of sense other than they would need to rebuild the library for ARM. It should also be noted that the Oculus Santa Cruz is also probably using a TX2 by now, and it would not be surprising if Magic Leap is also based on one. So the question is how the TX2 module at $400 in quantities of 10K+, is OpenFace offering a developer kit at $600 consider they are using two yet-to-be-released 2560×1440 OLED panels, but somehow I don’t believe this, since I don’t know of any manufacturer creating 3-4″ 16:9 panels. And as others have mentioned this would extend the FOV, yet the exterior seems to have normal shape. Plus if the battery is up front, this is going to be one heavy unit. If the battery is in the back or in some early units a couple of years back, on an umbilical cord, this may not be as practical as on would think. Where is Tony Stark’s chest power unit when you need one?

    • As someone else mentioned this could be two panels 9:16 at 2880 x 2560, but I don’t know of any 3-4″ panel, but there could be one. Why we cannot standardized screen specification by now, is frustrating.

    • I was wrong, it does appear they have a custom Android, but that would mean that NVIDIA worked with them independently since I was told many times that Android would not be available when I was in talks with NVIDIA. In fact NVIDIA still does not offer Android to the those working with their Jetson development kit and no buzz of anyone else using it either.

      I would be a little worried if I were GameFace. Just ask anyone who was expecting a TX1 based Shield tablet or even the update to the original Shield TX1 gaming unit that was shelved so they could partner with Nintendo. Sure it is good for the shareholders, but when you continue to erode your ardent supporters with product abandonment, they will jump ship. Also, I am still scratching my head on how Gameface can offer the development kit to me for $600, when the Jetson TX2 module costs $500? Even the 10K+ price I was quoted would me they are selling these units at a loss.

      Finally, this seems to be a custom Android 7 variant using OpenVR, but unknown what it takes to port an app over. With Lenovo Mirage, HTC Vive focus and the Oculus Go & upcoming Santa Cruz, this seems to be very crowded market to build four different versions of your app. I also donl’t like having to send them my app for them to try before deciding if you are going to be lucky enough to buy one of their developer headsets. As much as I know this chip will run circles around the 835 based Mirage and Focus, it is not in my best interest to hand over my executable to them be evaluated with being able to optimize it for their headset.

      • I wouldn’t worry about Mirage & Focus if I were you. lol
        DaydreamVR is a ghost, a footnote in VR history.
        GameFace’s competition GO & Quest.
        That is, if GameFace is ever released.
        Which it won’t.

  • The question is: if this headset has more computational power and more features than all the other standalone headsets and costs the same… why aren’t all the other headsets like this one? It is weird, there should be a reason…

  • Whatever happened to this …?? lol