Panasonic subsidiary Shiftall, the makers of SteamVR-compatible body tracking system HaritoraX, announced it’s releasing a lightweight consumer VR headset this year that includes OLED microdisplays and the ability to play SteamVR content. Called MeganeX, the low-profile, high-resolution headset is slated to launch sometime in Spring 2022, priced at around $900.

Unveiled at CES 2022, Shiftall’s MeganeX is said to include 1.3 inch OLED microdisplays which feature a 2,560 × 2,560 per-eye resolution, rated at 120Hz. The 6DOF headset features a foldable frame with built-in speakers, making for a compact package that weighs in at 250g, or around 8.8oz (without cable).

Pancake optics are included here too—a design element which Huawei and Pico have used in their respective prototype headsets, and which HTC has used to slim down its Vive Flow standalone headset.

Image courtesy Shiftall

Shiftall says MeganeX is focused on serving up SteamVR content, however it’s also said to include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 chipset—similar to Vive Flow. Here’s the full spec sheet Shiftall has shared so far:

  • Display: 1.3inch OLED microdisplay 5.2K (2,560 × 2,560 per eye), 10bit HDR / 120Hz
  • Weight: Approx. 250g (8.8oz) – Without cable
  • Processor: Snapdragon XR1 platform
  • Tracking system: 6DOF, camera based inside-out head tracking
  • Connection: DisplayPort Alternate Mode on USB-C or DisplayPort + USB2.0 – Connect with the interface conversion box (included in package)
  • Estimated Price: Less than $900
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Tech analyst and YouTuber Brad Lynch (aka ‘SadlyItsBradley’) says in a hands-on at CES 2022 that both clarity and brightness are “actually pretty good,” and further correctly guessed at the inclusion of Kopin microdisplays. Shiftall says those are also Kopin-made pancake optics, in case you were wondering.

Lynch’s admittedly quick assessment on the show floor is encouraging to hear, as pancake optics typically present drawbacks when it comes to optical efficiency, requiring brighter displays to overcome disturbances caused by its polarized elements, which reflect light back and forth.

Both specs-wise and in physical appearance, Shiftall’s MeganeX feels very similar to Panasonic’s compact VR glasses revealed at a special event last year in Japan which coincided with the all-digital CES 2021. Those included Kopin microOLEDs providing a 2,560 × 2,560 per-eye resolution too.

One of the biggest missing pieces is field of view (FOV) however. Kopin says in a prior announcement for its first all-plastic ‘P95’ pancake optics, that when paired with its own Kopin’s 1.3 inch 2,560 × 2,560 microOLED it can provide around a 95-degree FOV.

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Acquired by Panasonic in 2018, Shiftall focuses primarily on niche consumer devices, many of which feel like contenders for SkyMall. Its IMU-based body tracking system, HaritoraX, has been on the Japanese market for some time now though, which better positioned the company to dive deeper into the world of XR hardware development. Besides MeganeX, Shiftall is bringing two more immersion gadgets to global markets with the help of parent company Panasonic this year.

Alongside MeganeX, Shiftall also announced Pebble Feel, a wearable body cooling and heating device worn on your back, and Mutalk, a microphone that’s supposed to suppress outside noise as well as muffle the user’s own speech to those nearby in their physical space—both ideal candidates for VRChat, NeosVR or any other fairly open social VR app that supports niche hardware such as haptic vests. Both Pebble Feel and Mutalk are slated to launch in 2022, both priced at “around $200”.

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  • kontis

    IMU-only tracking systems in 2022?

    They want $270 for HaritoraX that uses 5 gyros.
    iPhone 4 with gyro was introduced in 2010.

    Just so people know, these pucks can’t track position, only rotation, so crazy dance moves won’t be properly tracked and expect a lot of foot sliding.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      IMU tracking has become a lot better with faster micro controllers doing a lot of sensor fusion, so drift is less horrible than it was a few years ago. It still cannot compete with actual positional tracking, but the software can make some smart guesses by fusing the IMU tracked data with positional tracking from the HMD and hand controllers, as your arms, torso and legs are usually connected to these. Nonetheless most IMU based body tracking systems still require you to stand in a calibration pose every few minutes to resync the positions, but this is less of a problem for most use cases, as long as head and hand tracking are accurate. You won’t be using IMU used body trackers for movie motion capture, but for VRChat they do fine at a much lower price.

    • Hivemind9000

      Not sure where everyone is getting IMU-only tracking from (they also produce IMU devices, but that’s another product). They’re 6DOF camera based inside-out tracking – says so clearly in the article.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        kontis talking about pucks and HaritoraX is obviously referring to their IMU based body tracking system, not the MeganeX HMD. There is only one post by Walter Sharrow mixing up the tracking method between the two devices, that is hardly everybody.

        • Hivemind9000

          I read it in context to the article (which only mentioned the puck in passing), so assumed he assumed that the headset was using the same tracking tech as the pucks. My mistake, but at least I gave you the obvious pleasure of correcting me.

  • kontis

    One of the biggest missing pieces is field of view (FOV) however.

    Brad said it felt similar to Quest 2, which is impressive for microdisplays-based HMD.

    • Dave

      Is 95° Horizontal? That would make it similar to the Reverb G2 (94°) however I’m guessing it’s worst than that and they’ve actually quoted a diagonal FoV. Either way it’s probably pretty similar to a Quest 2.

      • Charles

        Similar FOV, but much better contrast, black levels, resolution, and comfort.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    Shiftall? What an unfortunately name, sounds like Shitfall.

    • xyzs

      Yeah and MeganeX is also a quite mediocre name. They need to get a better marketing team.

      • I don’t think it’s so bad, really, if you say it like “Mega-Nex” it has a certain ring to it. I guess it doesn’t make that much sense in the Western market, but megane in Japanese literally just means “(eye)glasses”. Which is what it looks like. Just, er, Xpecial xD

    • Dennis Tman

      I know every time I read the name it’s all I could say. They really need to do something about that

  • xyzs

    Weird design with those arms in the front… Can users remove them ?
    Also, an XR2 with advanced software for built-in wireless connection to PC would be needed in 2022.

    For the rest, great to see some progress !

  • dk

    the xr1 is helping out with the tracking ….it hooks up to a pc …it works with steamvr

    • Holdup

      Oh ok

  • Dave

    You mean 900$ and 95 degrees of FoV and I bet the audio is tiny as well. Yeah I’ll pass! I’m loving the technology boost though but there will be plenty more pancake lens based VR headsets further down the road with better h/w.

    • Charles

      I’m sure it supports external headphones.

  • Jeff Axline

    My Index has no chip at all! I still use it though. The big issue is that I don’t see any mention of controllers.

  • 3872Orcs

    Who’s the target audience for these? I’m not interested in any of these small form factor headsets. And the field of view need to increase, not decrease!

    Now what I do want is anything described in the patents for the next Valve headset, especially high bandwidth wireless tech for PC!

    Give me something to be excited about! Like proper generation 2 headsets. The tech has not substantially changed since the original Oculus Rift, it’s more or less similar to Index and Reverb G2.

  • Charles

    I’m excited about this. Assuming it has respectable binocular overlap, this will be the best headset, by a long shot – a huge upgrade.

    Sure, wireless would be nice, and FOV could be better, but there are always tradeoffs. Can’t have it all.

  • VRFriend

    Where is Samsung Odyssey 2 ?

    • Charles

      The Odyssey+ is over 3 years old now. Still the best overall, I think, but they’ve been leaking/talking about an upgrade for like 2 years now. They need to hurry up.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        No, they haven’t been leaking/talking about an upgrade like 2 years now, they last time they actually said something was like 2 years ago.. I don’t think Samsung will release a VR headset anymore, or certainly not any time soon.

    • It’s in a case on top of my wardrobe…

  • Anonmon

    > “Quest 2-like FoV”
    Ignoring having to compare everything to Facebook hardware for a second, while the form factor is certainly aesthetically nice, who the fuck cares once you actually get it on your face and start using it?

    We shouldn’t be settling on FoV, which has been stuck in a rut with every new headset announcement and release the past few headsets. We should be focusing on widening that FoV instead of trying to cram more Hz and pixels that literally no GPU on the market can drive, GPU availability crisis or otherwise. Because more FoV genuinely makes things more immersive in a way that, while more pixels and frames are nice, couldn’t ever hope to meaningfully improve on. You’re MORE physically immersed with more FoV instead of being able to see what you could before with more clarity. Which again, I won’t knock wanting more fidelity, but we don’t need more fidelity right now, because no one could reasonably possibly drive that fidelity anyway. While a bump of FoV is exponentially less intensive, especially if we were to get fixed foveated rendering on the sides into the mix.

    Also, if this headset is meant to target SteamVR users, I hope they’re intending to have an add-on module of some sort that attaches onto the front that allows for Lighthouse tracking, much like the Arpara tracker that makes that headset basically useless to a genuine compelling option.
    Could see having the diode windows arranged around the front circular area that would make them look all cool and cyberpunk-y.

  • Some substantial compromises. No hand controller solution, high expense, IMU tracking instead of optical or SLAM, and poor FOV. This thing is in the same boat as the HTC Flow, in that it’s an interesting display that is still mostly unusable from the lack of controllers. At least the Flow is 50% cheaper.

    • Hivemind9000

      “Tracking system: 6DOF, camera based inside-out head tracking”

  • ZeePee

    This is the headset I’m most excited about.

    Has the potential to be the best headset on the market by far. At least until project Cambria and apple’s headset release anyway.

    Literally everything I had hoped for apart from the FoV. The FoV should be fine though by the sounds of it if it’s the same as the G2 / Quest 2. Index style audio would be good, but no problem, I’ll just attach some lightweight yet high quality headphones to it.

    I am concerned about the comfort though, as 250g in a sunglasses style design, is actually pretty heavy.

    This form factor is incredible and the next gen form factor we could have hoped for, but I think a thin head strap is still necessary, and with some weight on the back of the had to counterbalance it.

    It’s amazing, but the current design might make the worst out of what should be by far the most comfortable VR headset ever made.

  • Mike

    Yea, I guess some people really want a smaller headset and will pay that
    price for smaller headset and fov. I do not see a market for it
    personally at that price.

  • vengox

    I am venting here. looks like 2022 is going go in the direction of smaller
    glasses type form factor with micro LED’s and pancake lenses and a smaller FOV.
    That’s great an all for some applications, but I was hoping that some
    manufacturer this year can finally give us great hi-res enthusiast headset that
    isn’t flawed somehow.

    I think we would all agree that the only thing the higher end VR enthusiast
    community ever wanted these last two years was something along the lines of a
    Valve index core with G2 screens married up with lenses from something either
    of a quest 2 or gear vr (non-Fresnel lens). I don’t think we weren’t asking for
    anything more revolutionary then that at its core.

    Now it just seems like it is all going into different directions from the
    core VR enthusiast with some exception. Sunglasses AR/VR and self-contained HMD
    that have limited capabilities and less the par tracking.

    I find it interesting that it seems like every company that develops a new
    VR headset, they drop the ball or have a fatal flaw in at least one main
    category that other comparable headsets from other companies had no problem
    delivering on or even excel within that same generation of headset, and it keeps
    repeating itself.

    I consider main categories, screen resolution/visuals, audio, tracking,
    performance, comfort, lenses, IPD range and FOV.

    Here’s are some examples.

    Varjo Aero, mind blowing everything, but no integrated audio solution
    options and mild barrel distortion for $2K.

    The whole HP reverb series painfully clung on to it’s WMR platform with it’s
    crippled tracking solution with all their headsets revisions while delivering
    top notch visuals at a great price point. And they improved upon, but never
    really fixed their elephants in the room. They repeated this with every new
    generation. Ignore any real root cause fixes from the last version that pissed
    everyone off while painfully having something great about it.

    Quest 2 is a pretty awesome device for its price point, and it’s constantly
    improving. But you have to have Facebook rammed up your A$$ to use it. Not much
    of a problem for me, but I can understand the issue for some.

    Vive Pro 2 = Premium device with and awesome screen resolution
    specification, but some genius thought that a vertical crunching Kylo Ren
    shaped Fresnel lens and questionable clarity for it’s stated resolution spec
    was something to be desired.

    Samsung Odyssey+, fuzzy visuals that made you return the headset because it
    was questionably worse than the original Odyssey.

    Pimax really tries. By despite their attempts and history of false promises,
    they disappoint one way or another. But at least the hear the voice of the
    customer and “get it”.

    I have purchased so many headsets returning most of them because of them not
    feeling complete with some other features I had in another current / previous
    headsets.