At CES 2019 this week, Pimax is showing off the production versions of their “8K” and “5K” Plus headsets, their upcoming Knuckles-style controllers, as well as hand-tracking and eye-tracking modules.

Pimax has begun delivering its ultrawide crowd-funded “8K” and “5K” Plus headsets to Kickstarter backers, and has also begun taking open orders. And while headsets are slowing getting into backers hands, they’re still missing a handful of additional components that were promised as part of the crowdfunding campaign.

At CES 2019 this week, the company is showing off its latest progress with the headsets and additional components. On the show floor the company intends to demonstrate the production versions of the Pimax “8K” and “5K” Plus headsets, and functional ‘open-palm’ controllers for the first time. Additionally they’re showing two of the modules that will extend the functionality of the headsets: controller-less hand-tracking from Leap Motion, and eye-tracking from 7invensun.

The Leap Motion module, which attaches to the underside of the headset, can be seen here. | Image courtesy Pimax

Other modules (like the promised wireless transmitter) are still in the works, the company says, but won’t be shown off at CES this week.

Pimax’s controllers, which look like a mashup between Oculus Touch and Valve’s Knuckles controllers, are said to support an ‘open-palm’ design, meaning a strap will keep the controller attached to the hand even when the user is not ‘holding’ it. Though the controller purportedly includes capacitive sensing on the handle for finger tracking (like Knuckles), it also has a grip trigger (like Touch).

Image courtesy Pimax

Pimax plans to offer the controllers in two variations, one with thumbsticks (like Touch) and one with trackpads (like the Vive wands). The company will also offer mixed-and-matched options—one thumbstick controller and one trackpad controller—though we’re struggling to think of practical reasons to have one of each rather than a matching pair.

The controllers use SteamVR Tracking, and Pimax indicates that they will be headset agnostic (among headsets using SteamVR Tracking), meaning Vive users could use them as an upgrade to the Vive wands.

Pimax says that the controllers will work with both 1.0 and 2.0 base stations, and plans to ship two 2.0 base stations together with the pair of controllers for $300 (though Vive users eyeing up this package should be aware that 2.0 base stations do not support the original Vive).

Photo by Road to VR

Last year at CES we dove deep into Pimax’s latest headsets and came away impressed with the company’s progress but noted that there was still some real kinks to iron out before launch. This week we’ll be going hands-on with the company’s latest kit to see what kind of progress they’ve made in a year’s time. Stay tuned.

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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."
  • Blaexe

    The $300 for controllers and base stations is marked as a deposit, final price is unknown.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    It is intriguing these wide fov and high res headsets but as of now just to own a vr pc and have a entry headset is exceptionally pricey.

  • John Horn

    Is there a difference in the “build quality” between these “production” vs “backer” headsets?

    • Leon

      Same headset

  • Daniel Will

    Still this basic headband. ?

    • Candy Cab

      They use a strap system that looks like the one used on the Rift CV1. The top strap is soft but they say there is a hard strap currently being developed that will be released soon.

  • I really hope that you will be able to do a hands-on… this Pimax seems cool, but it is also an organization mess

  • Hivemind9000

    Their kickstarter mentioned eye tracking as one of the addons. Seems like it’s a critical addon for anyone who has a PC rig anything less than the absolute top end. It would definitely help expand their market. Wonder what their plans are for this, if any?

    • dogbite

      They are working on foveated rendering. They are working very closely with Valve and Nvidia so I would expect this is part of that effort. As far as performance and helping with lower hardware the now beta ASW type routines will be of more value in the near term. Foveated will need to be written into the games to help there and that won’t happen over night.

      • Charles

        “Foveated will need to be written into the games”
        How do you know? Do you have a source? I see no reason why it could’t be integrated into the render pipeline in SteamVR or by the GPU drivers. In fact, Nividia has stated that the RTX line has build-in support for variable-rate shading for foveated rendering.

        • Hivemind9000

          Yeah I’m pretty sure it can be done at the render pipeline level as there’s nothing game-specific about it. Similar to the way motion smoothing etc can be configured in SteamVR.

        • Mradr

          To a point yes FOV can be injected into the pipeline – but for a true performance gain benefit – you will need to work at the game engine up to support it correctly using anything related to Multi-Res and Variable-Rate.

          • Charles

            Do you have a reliable source saying this? Even if it were true, new games would just need to be based on a recent version of Unity/Unreal that has it.

        • dogbite

          Well I can’t offer you a source and if I have just regurgitated a myth being repeated by others in places on the net then please ignore that part of the reply.
          My response to HM’s question is still the same regardless. Pimax is working on it and it will still be a while. I will add, however, that if all that is required is a driver implementation the time will be less. Given the number of years people have been working on it, it appears to be a little more complex than that.
          It does seem to be a good solution to that fast approaching Moore’s Law wall. It doesn’t do much for discouraging lazing coding though.

  • Jistuce

    If we insist on putting the model names in quotes, it should be “5k Plus”, not “5k” Plus.

    • Their intention isn’t to quote model names, it’s to warn readers that the 5K in the name is misleading.

      • Jistuce

        Yes, yes, I know the argument.
        As I’ve said before, it is a stupid argument that roots itself in a defense of an intentionally-misleading name(“4K” TV), combined with an assumption that 16:9 is the only aspect ratio.

        5K and 8K are not specified resolutions anymore than “4K” is. They are, arguably, a specified horizontal resolution, but “4K” TV(properly UHDTV, or 2160p) isn’t 4 kilopixels wide, or even 4000 pixels wide.

        Pimax DOES match the low bar set by UHDTV’s definition of “4K”, falling exactly as short of 5K and 8K as “4K” TV does. The people complaining that they’re lying about their vertical resolution are MAKING THINGS UP.

        This, of course, all assumes that 5K and 8K are specs, as opposed to names(or parts of them, in the case of the 5K Plus). I never heard anyone complain that the “X”Box “360” wasn’t shaped like an X OR a ball, or even that the Game”Cube” wasn’t actually cubical without the GameBoy Player attached, but maybe we were just made of sterner stuff a decade ago.

        Regardless, every news article about Pimax doesn’t need to be injected with the level of sarcasm we used to expect of Slashdot newsposts about Micro$oft, even if WHINY TROLLS will complain in the comments that the article is not suitably chock-full of sarcastic mockery. And that’s where we are now.

        • Sekai Yukki


          • Jistuce

            Glad SOMEONE appreciated my rant.

  • jean thompson

    This is very exciting!! Can’t wait to hear what you think!!