Note: All demo’s ran on Linux using an nVidia GTX660 GPU. 

Customised Tuscany Demo

The first was demo that Robin compiled from the Oculus SDK, customising assets as required to allow it to take advantage of InfinitEye’s unique FOV. Playing it again on a different HMD felt vaguely like I was being unfaithful, but once the demo began that feeling melted away.

I was dropped into the villa and was immediately hit by that killer FOV. There’s no doubting the immediate effect of those 210 degrees, your mind more readily accepts the scene as presented. Standing in the middle of the room, you can absorb your surroundings without moving your head. When you do move your head, the image moves with predictability, precision, and no real perceptible latency.

The team are using YEI’s 3-Space sensor to provide the 6DOF data required for head tracking, which we’ll be looking at in more detail in the next article—for now let me tell you that the responsiveness and lack of latency provides a refreshingly transparent experience. Is it as good as the proprietary sensor found in the Rift? Without more time with the unit it’s impossible for me to call, but during my time with the unit I didn’t give head-tracking a second thought, which speaks volumes.

“There’s no doubting the immediate effect of those 210 degrees, your mind more readily accepts the scene as presented.”

The device is comfortable to wear, despite the latest prototype implementing the head harness ripped straight from a safety visor. In its current form, the housing comprises primarily of expanded PVC. As a result, the device is actually extremely light. At no point during the demos did the weight of the device feel like an issue at all.

As I move closer to objects, my brain convinces me that the objects pass beyond my peripheral vision—giving the impression of a wraparound world. Looking toward the bright exterior beyond the villas front door, my first view of the InfinitEye’s artefacts came into view. Chromatic aberration was clear and present in the high contrast view where white meets the edges of the door frame. I ask the team if they have any software correction in place for this; thankfully they reply that it’s yet to be implemented at all, meaning this effect should be greatly reduced by the time the device reaches any users. I should point out that, although a distraction, it was hardly an eyesore.

As my eyes adjust to the bright exterior, I catch sight of the second noticeable artefact: should your eyes become focused on them, the circular ridges that make up the Fresnel lenses are visible in brighter areas of the image . This however was even more subtle than the chromatic aberration and dissolved completely on darker areas of the image. In the next article, we’ll look at what causes the artefacts and what can be done to fix them.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Google's Standalone Daydream Headset Prototype with WorldSense Tracking

Passing through the door and into the courtyard, I was fully aware of each side of the door frame until it was well behind me; it gives you an interestingly accurate idea of your place in the virtual world and something I’d not considered as a gameplay advantage until trying it out for myself. Flying into the courtyard (the demo was in no-clip mode) around the side of the building and through a trees branches felt as if I was completely engulfed in the foliage—a feeling I recall experiencing on my first time with the Oculus Rift, but more acute in this case.

It was a good five minutes into my first playthrough before I realised I’d not even considered the much discussed ‘frame de-sync’ between each of the two panels.  There’s a reason for that: as far as I can tell, it simply isn’t present. I’ve had some experience of software that failed to sync images for both eyes correctly—it’s impossible to ignore and becomes unpleasant very quickly. I mention this to the team and they express surprise at the community’s assumption that this would be an issue as they’d simply never experienced it, either on Linux or Windows. The methods they use to render the images sent to the unit may have something to do with this, but more on that later.

InfinitEye 3D Cinema

Despite the minuscule team, they’d somehow managed to scrape together enough time to prepare some excellent demos. The 3D Cinema Robin and Lionel had worked on, written specifically with the InfinitEye in mind, was an extremely welcome surprise. Dropping me into the rudimentary but effective auditorium, I was struck again at the InfinitEye’s impressively panoramic feel. The sense of place that the device conveys is at times bewitching.

As the movie rolled, in full Stereoscopic 3D on the large cinema screen in front of me, the device’s superior resolution became immediately evident. Having spent some time playing 3D movies in the Oculus Rift Development Kit, it was never long before I was frustrated by the resolution limitations. With the InfinitEye however, I could quite easily have kicked back and enjoyed the movie. As with the Rift, you have a dedicated image for both eyes and, in my opinion at least, this provides the best possible way to enjoy a stereoscopic image. No crosstalk or ghosting was present and image detail and effective 3D depth shone.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Google's Standalone Daydream Headset Prototype with WorldSense Tracking

I was struck again at the InfinitEye’s impressively panoramic feel. The sense of place that the device conveys is at times bewitching.

It wasn’t perfect of course. The stacked Fresnel lenses seem to wash some colour and contrast from the image—an effect that was present for all demos. One factor that doesn’t help here is that, as the current prototype is entirely open towards the rear, reflections and light pollution can dilute the experience. It’s a trivial problem to solve of course (we joked about the possibilities of small Venetian blinds or curtains across both sides) and using my hands to block the gaps solidified that expansive view further.

Moving around the theatre, the field of vision impressed once again—being able to take in most of the auditorium’s seating and half of the screen in one glance illustrated the HMD’s killer attribute elegantly.

Custom Trench Run [Wearing Glasses]

The final demo was not quite what I expected. The team had prepared this Star Wars themed tech demo for a forthcoming competition. The fact that the video had appeared just one day before Boone had released his own version had lead some (including me) to assume they were one and the same.

I decided to wear glasses for this demo to find out how those who are short-sighted might fair with the InfinitEye HMD. As it turns out, the open design suits glasses wearers very well indeed. I was able to have the lenses touching my glasses with minimal loss of perceptible FOV and no real discomfort – at least for the short time I wore the device. Another plus.

This demo had been build from the ground up for the InfinitEye and very cleverly highlighted the devices strong points immediately. Dropped into the cockpit of an X-Wing, staring directly ahead I could still make out the tips of the fighters wings and laser cannons. In order to see R2D2, I only needed to turn my head 90 degrees and there he was, sat in my peripheral vision. As I mentioned before, enclosed spaces are rendered believably and the walls of the tunnel illustrate the power of high FOV Virtual Reality. Not only did moving along it give an extraordinary sense of speed, when I rolled the ship left and right the illusion of a world spinning about me was sold superbly. The effect was dizzying, in a good way and I found myself randomly spinning the ship just to try it out.

when I rolled the ship left and right the illusion of a world spinning about me was sold superbly. The effect was dizzying, in a good way

There’s one side effect of the large field of view, any shortcomings in the vertical FOV are in a way magnified. With this latest prototype there is a noticeable black halo effect apparent towards the very edges of your vertical peripheral vision. It’s there because, to put it simply, the lenses had to end somewhere and is undoubtedly an unwelcome  distraction. However, after chatting with the team it’s fairly clear that a resolution to this issue is pretty straightforward – the construction needs to be expanded slightly in that direction.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Google's Standalone Daydream Headset Prototype with WorldSense Tracking

The demo is rudimentary and Lionel (who’s built the demo’s assets) admits he’s no 3D modeller, but I was impressed what this micro team of developers had been able to achieve in such a short stretch of time. As it turns out, the slightly shonky visuals didn’t matter and as a demonstration of that immense FOV it was an inspired choice and one I was suitably impressed by.

Time To Leave, Closing Thoughts

I hope between the videos and my descriptions you’ve got a feel for why this new HMD is worthy of attention and why it’s quite rightly attracted so much attention from enthusiasts around the world. The promise demonstrated by this early device, which takes a very different approach to solving the problem of consumer virtual reality, is clear from the moment you put it on. The panoramic views offered up by the InfinitEye are compelling, unnerving and incredibly immersive. Furthermore the team, even at this early stage, have got the fundamentals right. Head tracking is fast and responsive with no perceptible latency and despite mine and others concerns, there is no problem with de-synced frames across the dual panel display.

Colour aberration is in clear evidence as are the aforementioned Fresnel specific artefacts. Furthermore, the devices completely open design needs amending to block light pollution and reflections from spoiling the view. All of these elements are either solvable or at the very least reducible – it’s early days yet for this HMD.

In my short time with Stephane, Lionel and Robin it became abundantly clear that this team has the smarts, the creativity and the drive to keep pushing their dream of High FOV VR forward. Their enthusiasm for the project is infectious and, like most people I’ve met who share a love of Virtual Reality, they have complete faith in what they’re trying to achieve. Their excitement in finally being able to share their work with someone else was also palpable and their relief once I showed my positivity evident.

My thanks to Stephane, Lionel and Robin for being excellent hosts and for allowing me to experience the InfinitEye for myself. We wish them luck with the project. You can get in touch with the team over at their Facebook page here.

We’ll have a full in-depth technical exploration of the InfinitEye including answers to your questions very soon. Stay Tuned.

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  • Paulo Cunha

    This review was AWESOME!!! It got everything I was hoping for… and was a relief for many of my worries.
    I gotta to say… I have my Rift here at my desk, but I’m really disappointed by that binocular vision. Ok, everything else is great, latency, corrected chromatic aberrations (minding the low resolution, wich will improve, of course)… but VR without having an FoV of at least 180º is NOT VR. It’s just using binoculars to view a 3D monitor. Sorry Luckey, but it’s true.

    To be immersed in a world you GOTTA mimic as perfectly as possible our vision range, and although I know Fresnel produce the rounded artifacts (as FatherGeek already demonstraded in the forums with stacked lenses tests) it STILL is a better and more realistic way to experience the VR world.

    I was impressed with the very low latency… demonstrating perhaps that the genius of the RIFT was 50% 50% due to the advancements of gyros, accelerometers and magnetometers in the mobile industry. Latency soon won’t be a problem at all.

    The dual screens with NO DE-SYNC is absolutely fantastic…. I SINCERELY dind’t expect that. I expected the annoying one eye glitches of course. Kudos to you, guys!!!! (And perhaps with the advent of OLED curved displays , the use of dual screens is gonna remain in the past).

    Regarding lateral light leak, it should be a minor detail…just a matter os designing protective covers, as with the Rift.

    Anyway. AWESOME in every aspect…… Didn’t expect that, keep up the good work, and…

    LET THE COMPETITION BEGIN! :D

    Cheers!!
    Paulo Cunha

    • Okin

      Competition is good. But this wont be able to compete for a while yet. 2 screens means either double the price of the Rift, or 2 much lower quality screens, if they want to match price. Some people will want to spend the extra money for the better FOV, but most probably wont.

      The Rift’s current FOV is a limitation of the current screen technology (we probably need curved and even wider screens), as well as the price point they’re trying to hit.

      And if you’re disappointed in the Rift’s FOV, wait a generator or 2. From the way Oculus has discussed their priorities, regarding FOV, it seems like the second generation consumer model (Rift 2?) will be when they put more focus on widening the FOV. Oculus needs to convince screen manufacturers that the Rift will be a hot-seller, before they’ll make screens specifically better for VR. But if/when they DO, the Rift may very well have a comparable FOV to this InfinitEye headset, and would still be able to meet the cheaper price point (if they stick with 2 screens, and oculus sticks with 1).

      And I have an Oculus Rift too, I’m never really bothered by the FOV, or any “binocular vision”. As long as things are configured right for your personal settings, and the game you’re playing makes good use of the peripheral space on the screen (without blacking it out), then the FOV is barely a problem at all.

      I can’t wait for a wider FOV headset, but then again I can. I’ll wait and see what Second-Gen VR headsets start looking like, and stick with Oculus this first time around, because of price point, and their so-far proven software/hardware relations.

      • Paulo Cunha

        Hi There Okin!

        You were talking about the price. But keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need dual screens to have a + 180º FoV. FatherGeek in the MTBS3D forum demonstrated that with stacked lenses you could have almost the exact configuration of the Oculus (with perhaps a little wider screen) but due to the fact that the Fresnel is wrapped around you face, it gives you this incredible 180 plus experience. Of course, with dual screens we get a much better result. But anyway, I think the OLED curved ones will be the choice. And as we don’t even KNOW the retail price for the consumer version of the RIft, nor exactly WHEN it will be relesead I’m pretty sure we can think of competition just right now.

        For my dismay, as until today, I haven’t read any single line regarding a Rift with a higher FoV, because, frankly that’s my only concern so I read everything about it. All we got are those secret statements “Yes, we are working on many things at once”… But they keep talking about resolution, resolution, better tracking, latency, etc. Not FoV. I don’t know if in their minds they think that’s ok… because DEFINITELY IT’S NOT. I’m hoping to be VERY VERY wrong about this and with the arrival of DevKit v2, or finally with the consumer version, we get a surprise 180plus FoV. (The Rift team wouldn’t be so naive…and I know they were in touch with FatherGeek experiences with stacked fresnel lenses for a long time now).

        About being bothered by all this Fov problem, you might be one of the lucky ones that have your interpupillary distance exactly matching the Rift lenses, so you have little black borders and less binocular vision than me or other people, but even in that case this is not how we perceive the world, unless a person has a serious field of view disorder. Evolutionary speaking, we gotta se things in our peripheral vision, so you can run, otherwise we’re dead. Now try that with Oculus Rift. Impossible. For TRUE VR, we must have the wraparound effect. NO black borders whatsoever.

        The OLED curved screens are already becoming THE great fight among the mobile industry leaders, and it was already said that their cost could be even smaller to produce than that of some LCD we have today. So I think price is not a problem in the near future when all that competition hit the market (and the HMDs).

        Anyway, I think these guys here are on the right track, putting huge effort in the FoV experience, cause they know that’s the trick for (ok, damn this word haha) IMMERSION. I Can’t wait to see what’s coming!!

        • Psuedonymous

          I’m not holding out any hope for suitable OLED panels yet. the curved panels are all relatively low resolutions compared to some of the recently demonstrated TFTs, and even the regular flat OLEDs used in the Galaxy & Note series are RGBG (two subpixels per addressable pixel) pentile panels rather than proper tristimulus panels, so do not have the same usable resolution as an equivalent TFT. This is usually explained as a tradeoff due to light output issues with the different organic phosphor colours.

          • Paulo Cunha

            Yes, but here are a few words: Savage Capitalist Competition + Design Appeal.
            2 – 4 years from now, all of those problems are gonna be in the past.
            I bet some beers :D

  • eyeandeye

    I’m so glad you got to try this system out and give us your impression, Paul. And I’m glad you came away with a positive experience. I first heard about InfinitEye on mtbs3d and I’ve been super excited to see what becomes of it. I sincerely hope I get to wear one someday, and if not, I hope they at least manage to spur Oculus into improving their FOV sooner.

    The Rift is awesome but I haven’t read any mention of them trying to improve the FOV for the consumer model, nor have I seen how their current design could ever have it’s FOV improved to the level of InfinitEye. Seems to me the lenses would have to somehow be made concave and then completely mashed against your eyeballs. Otherwise no matter how big or curved they made the screen, we’d still see the massive black borders around the edges of our vision where the lenses don’t reach.

    Strangely, many people I’ve shown the Rift to don’t seem to notice the black void or lack of peripheral vision, but to me it is quite obvious. I wear the default lenses, and my eyes are close enough to brush them slightly with my lashes. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is still amazing, indescribable, and revolutionary…but not all that I dreamed it would be or could be.

    Assuming the issues you describe with the InfinitEye can be resolved, the only other issue I see is that the device will unavoidably be larger than the Rift, at least at first. But from what I can tell from your hands-on I’d gladly trade some additional bulkiness for better immersion (damn, I almost made it without using that word).

    Bring on the Hi-FOVHMDs!

    Sheesh. I used to think “HD-DVD” was a mouthful.

    • Paulo Cunha

      I have the same feeling as you do. Although the Rift is a great experience, the small FoV simply ruins it for me… it’s like whatching everything with binoculars… making it claustrophobic even, With all the hype, I expected the feeling to be really really better…. but…. let’s see now, as you said… if they at least can push the Rift team to see that FoV MATTERS, it could already be a great thing.

  • WormSlayer

    I’ll be interested to hear what their plans are for this HMD! Also WTF Samsung? XD

  • Mageoftheyear

    Good to get some meat & potatoes info on this. I too was surprised that there were no frame-syncing errors in the demos you tried Paul. That is encouraging news. Kudos to RtVR for the exclusive interview!

    I’d need to actually try both to see where the overall better experience is, but the competition is a welcome factor and I’m holding thumbs for InfinitEye eventual release.

  • xxxyyy

    I think it’s incredible to see competition at this early stage in this new wave of VR headsets.
    Luckey is a great guy and I suspect noble of heart too, but even him can turn into the Evil Dark Lord without competition, he could just rule us all and bind us in a low FOV claustrophobic doungeon…

    So, great to see this extremely positive review of this promising HMD.

  • drifter

    Great job Paul.
    “The team are using YEI’s 3-Space sensor to provide the 6DOF data”
    You mean 3DOF ? (as Rift sensor)

  • drifter

    It’s interesting to see that more FOV give more sense of speed.

  • Webb Travellor

    Greetings… I first started fooling around with VR equipment in 1993, and later owned a VR gaming company. I’ve tried alot of VR headsets and other equipment over the years… back in 1998 I owned Liquid Image HMD’s as well as Sony Glasstron’s and VFX stuff. I had a single 800×600 LCD panel in the Liquid Image HMD, with a Fresnel lense. I loved that HMD, even though it was big, bulky, and indeed had all the “cons” of using a Fresnel lens. But I think using the single LCD panel actually worked pretty well to create a better “immersive” experience than the dual screen HMD’s that were out at the time. Is true stereoscopic 3D really necessary for the best experience? I think that would be interesting for a “blind” test, i.e. have various HMD’s with and without stereo displays, and allow a statistically representative set of people to try the HMD’s and say which one they like best, without mentioning the stereo-vs-mono aspect. I wonder what a large set of “lay public” would say? Imagine if more people preferred a mono display, and then a whole new world opened up with use of REALLY high-rez single screens? And yeah, a curved screen(s) is probably the future of these things, as curved screens for simulators and high-end “prosumer” gaming exist with projections and are REALLY good!

  • Runewell

    This is great! As someone who owns two Oculus Rift Dev Kits I really love the idea of more options in the market. The size of the screen and mention of the YEI sensors indicate to me that this hardware will probably be more expensive than the Oculus Rift. I hope they stick with high-quality hardware as I think a “premium” consumer VR product would be a great idea. I would easily pay 600-800 USD for a higher-resolution, bigger FOV device.

    I wish I had the time to work on a generic SDK for VR hardware. Although not in Oculus Rift’s best economic interest, I think the community should standardize the game engine integration. I would rather all VR gear be swappable without the need to worry about which game is compatible with which headset.

  • Ronald

    What happened to these guys?. Is the product unofficially dead/shelved?

  • Ronald

    What happened to these guys?.Anyone know?