Japanese startup Diver-X is looking to launch a SteamVR-compatible headset that seems to be taking a few ideas from popular anime Sword Art Online, which prominently features a fully immersive metaverse. While it’s not a brain-computer interface like the “full dive” NerveGear featured in the show, the heavy-weight hardware presents a pretty interesting approach to VR headset design.

Called HalfDive, the Tokyo-based company says its taking advantage of the sleeping position to “enabl[e] human activity in its lowest energetic state.”

Since it’s worn laying down, the creators say they’re freed from many of the design constraints that conventional VR headset makers are used to pursuing with the introduction of things like pancake optics and microdisplays. Since the weight isn’t on your neck, it doesn’t have to be light or slim.

Image courtesy Diver-X

Instead, HalfDive is perched on a base that allows it to include things like a 10 aspherical lens stack for a reported 134-degree field of view (FOV), and what Diver-X calls a “significantly improved image quality” out of its  1,600 × 1,440 pixels per-eye dual displays.

After all, HalfDive is meant to be a mostly stationary experience, so users really aren’t meant to physically move outside of turning their heads left and right, something the company calls 4.5DOF (degrees of freedom), further calling it “virtual 6DOF.”

The company says its supporting the avatar movement simulation mentioned above in addition to SteamVR base station tracking, which may be used for its yet to-be-revealed controller. We’re eager to see just how that’s supposed to work when HalfDive gets closer to its Kickstarter launch, which is coming on December 6th, 2021.

That said, Diver-X has revealed surprisingly little for such a unique design concept. So far we know the system’s locomotion method will be fairly passive too; locomotion is controlled by foot-worn controllers which depend on the degree of tilt of the user’s ankle.

Image courtesy Diver-X

A hand controller hasn’t been completely revealed yet either, although a blurred image released in late September suggests it will be something akin to Valve’s SteamVR controllers (aka ‘Knuckles’).

To immerse the other senses, HalfDive also features four speakers—that’s two more than basically all VR headsets out there. The company has also made mention of a “wire-based-force-feedback-module” which it says will give the user a sense of touch.

A concept image shows a lead connecting the user’s hand and the headset base, which may allow for a basic level of resistance when encountering digital objects.

Image courtesy Diver-X

Two fans integrated into the headset provide greater immersion via wind effects and also comfortability when set on low.

Another weighty inclusion to the headset: a vibration feedback system which syncs with audio to enhance things like enemy footsteps, gunshots, and environmental sounds.

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The most expensive version of the hardware coming to a Kickstarter next month will include a custom varifocal optical stack, which allows the headset to more naturally replicate vergence and accommodation—something Meta (formerly Facebook) has been working on over the years too in various prototypes.

We won’t have to wait too long to see it in action hopefully. HalfDive is being pitched on Kickstarter starting December 6th, and is slated to offer the headset in three flavors: a basic model without varifocal lenses (~$700), some sort of bundled package (~$1100), and its varifocal lens version (~$3,900). You can check out the full specs below:

Specs

  • Degrees of Freedom: 4.5dof (Virtual 6dof)
  • Optical system: Original optical system using 10 lenses. Varifocal feature supported.
  • Field of view: 134 degrees
  • Resolution: 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye (3200×1440 pixels combined)
  • Refresh rate: >=90hz
  • Dial styled IPD adjustment: 58-82mm
  • Audio: Immersive sound system using 4 speakers
  • Controller: Two hand/foot controllers
  • Tracking: Lighthouse supported / Avatar movement emulation system using foot controller
  • Camera: Keyboard overlay system
  • Interface: DisplayPort 1.2 / USB3.0 / 3.5mm audio jack / 12V power source / I2C (module connection)
  • Platform: All SteamVR application supported
  • SDK: Unity (features dedicated to VRChat) / Unreal Engine

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  • gothicvillas

    Perhaps there is a market for vr while in the horizontal position what do i know. But thanks, count me out.

    • Ben Jacobs

      In fairness the porn threads are often at the top of the Oculus forum activity feed.

    • Elite-Force Cinema

      And why did you say count me out to this headset, you clown? Is it because you think it is made in Japan and that you hate Japan simply because you think they make terrible products with terrible developers until the point you want to force the entire country and all of its citizens to die forever? Cause it sounds like you are!

      • Dave

        Elite-Force Cinema I’ve found your unprovoked response quite insulting!

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          And guess who doesn’t care about this situation, you clown?

          No one does!!!!!

          • CMoney

            “No one does doesn’t care about this situation”? Might want to think your comment over.

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          You have no life, you Japan hater and racist!!!!!

      • Derek Jones

        Why are you so mad about stuff you made up? Calm down Francis. If you want to know “why?” just ask instead of speculating and being a huge a-hole. Stop being so sensitive, too.

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          How about no?

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          K-

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          -Y

        • Elite-Force Cinema

          -S

    • Ace of Spadеs

      Im in market for such since i play seated, standing up is dumb.
      But i wont buy it due to low resolution

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Well, other than the obvious porn, you can watch other movies as well, and that is probably more relaxing than in a sitting position.
      There are a few other possibilities where laying down during a game may be more natural than standing or sitting, such as floating in space/under water, or in freefall or as a cripple. Also, you could be doing abstract things, such as “creating a world”, or a game like “Gadgeteer” where this position might be OK. But yeah, the number of things where that would be an advantage over standard VR glasses seems extremely limited.

  • Nicholas

    Could this be the cure for diabetes?

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  • XRC

    Halfdive is a fascinating concept, leading me to wonder:-

    “Proprioception plays an essential role in balance control, and ankle proprioception is arguably the most important”.*

    (*The Role of Ankle Proprioception for Balance Control in relation to Sports Performance and Injury Jia Han et al. Biomed Res Int. 2015).

    My experiment building seating for VR, rotating user backwards takes weight off legs and especially ankles, big increase in immersion for driving/flying/space simulation. Otherwise the feedback through ankles is powerful ground anchor and orientation system (one reason roomscale is so powerful).

    Looking at Halfdive, what is proprioceptive effect of lying down fully supported with headset oriented vertically, compared to current headsets designed for seated or standing user with headset oriented horizontal?

    Happy XR!

    • Josh Kariakin

      maybe some sort of neuro stimulation could give a rough proprioception at some point in the future, though there are also benefits to this prone position for some experiences like you point out. I always figured we would have some sort of exo-suit that would support the body from the center of gravity; the waist, with force feedback, locomotion, and joint detection being all done through the rigid suit. The cost would be huge, but the ability to simulate virtually any movement short of acceleration would be amazing. I could see some kind of high priced venue charging for “mini vacations” – very high fidelity telepresence, AR, or purely virtual.

      • XRC

        One of the best location based entertainment experiences I’ve had was a paragliding simulator, with a sit in harness mounted on vertical track with 2.5m hydraulic piston. Oculus rift CV1 with paragliding toggles for input and wind generator above each tracking camera.

        Weight off legs and ankle disconnection gave true feeling of flying especially with rapid rise and drop of vertical piston,very immersive and thrilling to experience

  • ViRGiN

    They will likely put a very small goal like 30k and claim success. I feel sorry for anyone participating in it.

  • Jarom Madsen

    Huh, color me intrigued. More accessible, less ambitious VR certainly won’t be for those on the bleeding edge but I can imagine this appealing to those who can’t or don’t want to be as active as current mainstream 6DOF headsets require. Oculus Go certainly had its market but advertised users sitting upright, almost teasing users with a virtual world they couldn’t actually touch. By having the player lay down, you set the expectations of what kind of content to expect for the device from the forefront which I think could find it’s own niche market.

  • Foreign Devil

    That photo could be me watching netflix on my Quest at night. I lie down. . set Netflix VR to “Travel Mode” and let the rigid 3rd party headstrap hold most of the weight of the HMD (back of strap is pushing into pillow).

  • Sven Viking

    “ankle-worn controllers” [image showing foot-worn controllers]

    I have difficulty imagining any of this working out well but it’s certainly interesting.

    • Thanks for the correction! I fixed that bit to better reflect the copy provided on their website.

  • Could be good for crippled people, I guess.

    • ViRGiN

      100% obsolete with a single Oculus update supporting lying down

  • Arturs Gerskovics

    Normally mom’s basements have good locks

  • 3872Orcs

    Love this concept! I often browse and watch youtube this way on my Quest 1, it’s about the only thing I use my Quest for though. Wish I could play VR games this way on my Index. It’s a very relaxing position to be in.

  • VRFriend

    Walking/running, while laying still in a horizontal position….

    • Arno van Wingerde

      He, people do it all the time in their dreams already… so why not?

  • Charles

    Why is the resolution so low, in 2021? You would think taking away weight constraints would allow cheaper, heavier, high-resolution displays. What exactly is the advantage of this headset, at 1440p? What benefit do they get from no weight constraints? I guess just somewhat better lenses? That’s all?

    • Dron Red

      My main complain would be not resolution, which is actually low for a product with launch in 2022-2023, but head blocked in vertical position and only 90 Hz screen… That’s already deal breaker to me. If you imagine how you lie down and use this device w/o free head movements,it’s a way to arthritis straight away and 90 Hz on VR problematic screens… You can do frigging 360 Hz 15″ displays , so I assume you can do a 165 or 200hz for eye-size screens..

  • Josh Kariakin

    combine this with neuralink or some non-invasive system like Valve is developing and maybe the physical sensation of movement can be replicated well enough. Not sure why this thing doesn’t have higher resolution displays, would be cool if it was designed to be modular and upgradeable, as it doesn’t need to be so compact. I figured that boom-mounted headsets would be common for arcades and the like by now, to relieve the discomfort problem; which is a huge barrier to adoption imo.

  • Sofian

    If I break my neck before the KS launch count me in.

  • ViRGiN

    Vr porn is the most cringe thing ever. Fact, has apparently big interest from users – but so does beat saber.

    With the ever growing number of salty incels, they truly believe porn is what’s going to make vr mainstream lol. It’s complete dogshit, until they make it 6dof videos.

  • I still wonder what is a HALF DOF…

  • David Miller

    Fine print on the retail box.

    “Note: brain-frying microwave emitter sold separately.”

  • 株HITO

    Interesting

  • Evercross

    This is great. One step closer to true VR immersion. Now I just need you to add in Neural controls.

  • AOA

    estan chidos los circuitos salidos, que buen diseño

  • Dark_zer00

    Ahora falta que llegue a LATAM :v

  • Ragbone

    Does it come with the bed?