Pico Technology, the China-based VR headset manufacturer, today unveiled their latest Pico Neo VR headset, a standalone device that offers 6DoF positional tracking and 6DoF motion controllers. Like HTC Vive Focus, Pico Neo will use the Vive Wave open source API and have access to a mobile version of Viveport in China; unlike Vive Focus though, which was previously destined for Western markets using the Daydream platform, Pico Neo is definitely leaving China along with Vive Wave, although it still isn’t certain which app store the headset will use.

The new Pico Neo doesn’t have much to do with the Pico Neo CV we saw earlier this year, which housed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and a single camera for inside-out tracking.

Now coming closer to Vive Focus in specs, the updated Pico Neo for Western release includes dual-camera inside-out tracking powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, a three-hour battery life, 4GB RAM, support for 128 GB microSD and dual 90 Hz 1,440 × 1,600 LCDs. Pre-order requests are available on the US-facing site, but the company is only selling both Pico Neo (for $750) and a newly announced depth sensor Pico Zense to business for now.

China’s versions are slightly different, spanning two different options, both of which contain LCDs; a ‘basic version’ including a 3DoF motion controller similar to the ones packaged with the latest generation of mobile VR headsets for 4,000 RMB (~ $610), or a ‘business edition’, which includes the 6DoF controllers but costs 5,300 RMB (~ $810). Both headsets are currently available for general pre-order in China.

The headset’s controllers are positionally tracked using ultra-sonics technology. While it isn’t clear exactly how this works, the company says it “enables the Neo to deliver high fidelity control without the need for any external cameras, trackers or wires. It also means users are able to get high end VR experiences (6DoF head and hands) typical of an expensive PC solution in a beautifully self contained package.”

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When Pico Neo ships in January 2018 in China, the headset will be the second after Vive Focus to adopt HTC’s open source mobile VR API Vive Wave, and also the second to hook into the mobile version of the Viveport app store. When it ships outside of China though, it’s not so certain which app ecosystem it will have access to.

Pico told Road to VR “we are working with HTC to incorporate Vive Wave into the western release of the Pico Neo. We will know more details soon and will update you as soon as we know.” The company didn’t specify which app marketplace the Neo will use, and hasn’t responded yet to further inquiry. We’ll update this article when/if they do.

the China-facing Viveport App Store, image courtesy Pico Interactive

HTC has already signed up twelve hardware partners in China that will support Vive Wave and integrate Viveport content into their future products, including Pico, 360QIKU, Baofengmojing, Coocaa, EmdoorVR, Idealens, iQIYI, Juhaokan, Nubia, Pimax, Quanta and Thundercomm. How many of these will make it out of China isn’t certain at this time, but we’ll be keeping our eyeballs peeled.

Update 10/01/18: It was reported in a previous version of this article that the Western release of Pico Neo contained AMOLEDs, when in reality they contain LCDs.

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  • dk

    say whaaaaa 6dof controllers……hmm we’ll see how good it is

    • Sponge Bob

      The resolution of this Triad Semiconductor’s ultrasonic analog-to-digital front-end chip is limited by acoustic wavelength at 40 KHz which is about 8.6 mm
      – and in no event it is better than 1/4 of the wavelength

      not too good at all

      • dk

        hmm maybe …did u see the 4th pic …..they r playing around with it with hmd tracking……it’s the same thing right

        • Sponge Bob

          ultrasound is ultrasound – was used for tracking objects (including early VR tech) for decades
          it is funny that they say their tech is patented – I was unable to look it up though – all patents are public

          • dk

            well at least the pico neo controllers might work somewhat ok there might be some advances in the last few years ….they need to make some demos….or give some additional specs

          • Sponge Bob

            I’m sure they work ok – for games and stuff like that

            plus they merge the data with IMUs and do post-filtering

            And no, they won’t give you exact specs for isolated ultrasound tracking precision (like latency in ms and precision in mm)
            Just as Oculus or Vive won’t give you those numbers for their optical tracking tech – maybe just final merged and filtered numbers

            This industry is full of bs

          • Reels Rihard

            Your last statement is exactly what Lorrne Lanning said to watch out for in the Vr industry.

    • Without some sort of outside base stations for triangulation, there’s no way Ultrasonic technology could tell you anything more then the controller’s distance. You can track rotation with on-board sensors, but that’s far short of full positional.

      • Sponge Bob

        Completely wrong

        They do have 3 mics (tiny holes) on the front of HMD so they can do some sort of triangulation…err determine the direction of arrival sort of…

        One-way propagation distance measurement with ultrasound ?
        To a millimeter precision ?
        All wireless ???

        Good luck with that :-)

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Yes ofcourse we need another platform….

  • It’s LCDs.

    • Gerald Terveen

      LCD no longer needs to be a bad thing – they are getting a lot better.

      • I didn’t say it’s a bad thing. Just that it is LCDs. The article states OLEDs.

        • Gerald Terveen

          “China’s versions are slightly different, spanning two different options, both of which contain LCDs;”

          • “Now coming closer to Vive Focus in specs, the updated Pico Neo for Western release includes dual-camera inside-out tracking powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, a three-hour battery life, 4GB RAM, support for 128 GB microSD and dual 90 Hz 1,440 × 1,600 AMOLEDs.”

          • Gerald Terveen

            So the western version won’t have the AMOLEDs?

          • I have no idea where the information about a different hardware configuration for a western release comes from. It wasn’t mentioned in any of the sources and asking Pico directly, they only mentioned the LCD versions for business and consumers. The website this article links to is now updated with the LCD info as well.

          • Gerald Terveen

            ahh – thank you for the clarification, now I am curious what kind of display they will use.

        • tommet

          Outside of the Samsung version, the windows MR headsets use LCD. I’ve got an HP and have no complaints with the display compared to a rift at least due to the LCD. Their lenses kinda suck off axis, tho. And tracking is nowhere near as good. LCD? Not a problem. Maybe slightly less color pop, bit that’s about it. No ghosting or other artifacts I can see.

  • WyrdestGeek

    I like that it’s finally 6dof. That’s where it needs to be. But at that price, I can’t afford to gamble. I will need to wait and see how the market shapes up around it all.

  • Ted Joseph

    Waiting for an untethered, 6DOF, 200 Deg FOV, headset. Until then, I may stay with my Rift, the Santa Cruz, and possibly the GO…

    • tommet

      I have a gear VR (with s8+) and am seriously tempted by the Go….

  • Armando Tavares

    Standalone 6DoF controllers is welcomed news. At the very least it shows the industry that it’s possible. How good it is, remains to be seen.

    A while back I talked about the possibility of using low voltage lasers (the kind used to take measurements). Now we see ultrasound technology actually being used.

    It shows us that they (the industry) understand that outside tracking makes zero sense and that everyone is working hard trying to find an alternative.

  • 6DOF controllers are the great news of this devicee

  • tommet

    Uhh. How much??? Never gonna break into the market at that price point…

    • Sponge Bob

      cheaper than Rift or Vive PLUS computer
      even cheaper than new Galaxy PLUS GearVR

      • tommet

        Yeah, but there’s no content. It’s too expensive for what it is.

        • Sponge Bob

          with no content any headset is trash
          industry needs to figure out how to impose standards on content developers and make all content cross-platform
          but then it boils down to controllers and user interaction

          • tommet

            Exactly. With a rift or Vive you have other applications for the PC than VR. With the gear VR, true price is ~100 over the phone you’d have anyway. While Oculus go has only 3dof, it also has the gearvr library to draw on. And it’s only 200 usd. I’m hyped for 6dof stand alone headsets, but if they don’t a) come at an impulse buy cost or b) have content out of the gate, they are going to seriously struggle to get market share.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Using ultrasonics seems a smart idea, but how precise, stable and efficient is it? While there’s no doubt it works for internal positional tracking (main VR companies are either mediocre or floor-scrapping greedy not to have implemented solutions), I’m doubtful about the fact that it can both track positions AND hands or even analyse objects.

    But if it does work well for positional and controller tracking at least, well, depending on the cost of the ultrasonic OEM, this is a great solution.

    • Sponge Bob

      Forget about precise tracking of bare hand and fingers with ultrasonic sonar – not nearly enough resolution at 40Khz
      Just raw gestures – nothing like precise Leap Motion finger tracking is possible
      Controllers though are entirely different matter – its one way propagation so precision is much much better
      AND.. it is very cheap, extremely small and power efficient and stable as hell – works anywhere – including outside facing direct sunlight
      In fact it is the only practical choice for outdoors mobile AR on the go
      The only serious problem with ultrasonic pulses are unwanted reflections so you have to wait until they die out before next measurement – limits update rate

      • Lucidfeuer

        When saying extremely small, would that be easily “integrat-able” into a smartphone?

        • Sponge Bob

          Sure, small and dirt cheap
          MEMs mics are about 1×1 mm in size – can have as many as you want, unlike hi-res cameras.
          not just that – extremely power efficient – tiny dedicated DSP can do all real-time processing, no GPUs needed, can have power on all the time and run for weeks on battery charge
          http://www.ellipticlabs.com

          Yet, it is a very tricky tech to implement properly, unlike optical camera-based tracking which is kind of straightforward

          • Lucidfeuer

            Great, I head about it but never dug into it. Are there any other “clean” and interesting OEM beside ellipticlabs and Triad?

          • Sponge Bob
  • tommet

    This would really interest me if it were compatible with Steam or Oculus. Outside of that… Neat tech, no software.

  • Nelson Tutorials

    Looking forward for CES 2018, mostly the new VR/AR products announcements that will be released in 2018. Standalone VR Headsets with good resolution and content is what im looking most.

    I hope Oculus Go (199$) will be released day 1 to the entire world and not a few selected countries.

    • centurion2065

      Since Oculus Go has no positional tracking, anybody with the current Gear VR need not waste time with the Go. But I’m hoping for Lumi’s alyx VR standalone to have a reasonable price point. (It has positional tracking.)

  • jeff courtney

    I will getting a mirage for a good price.Praise Jesus !

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Why even promote Chinese shit for??