Pimax, the China-based company promising a few flavors of its high field of view (FOV) headset, has successfully completed its Kickstarter with $4,236,618, a good 21 times more than the initial $200,000 funding goal set at its launch back in mid-September. Now, Pimax’s road ahead will be defined by how they deliver on the plethora of ‘next gen’ add-ons promised to go along with 3 versions of their SteamVR-compatible headset.

First revealed mere days before the launch of the Kickstarter, Pimax showed off a bevy of modular accessories like a wireless transmitter, prescription glasses frame, scent-enabling module, inside-out hand tracking module, eye-tracking module, cooling fan, and headband with integrated audio—all either neatly clipped in place with magnets or attached with a simple screwdriver.

Being able to snap high-tech pieces onto an already decidedly ‘next gen’ package, which has been shown to deliver a highly immersive 200 degree FOV and a massive uptick in resolution over current consumer headsets, is a genuinely interesting prospect to say the least.

It was an interesting idea, but it wasn’t until the first set of stretch goals were announced that we learned Pimax intended on actually offering a selection of these extendable modules to backers, some of them for free of course as a hearty thank-you for being an early adopter. While it’s difficult to say if these are all feasible or not, one thing can be said: this is a herculean undertaking. If Pimax can deliver on most of what it’s set out to accomplish, it’ll make them a trusted name among the VR community. If not, well, fading into obscurity is always an option too.

image courtesy Pimax

We of course can’t pretend to know the company’s manufacturing capability outside of what it’s already shown with the Pimax “4K” headset, which at very least demonstrates their ability to mass manufacture and ship headsets. There’s also the prototype headsets shown all over the world that provided a reassuringly positive experience to many, including Tested.

Some of these freebies however could easily fetch the interest of their own dedicated Kickstarter campaigns (some even have already, including VR Lens Lab, VR Cover Facial Interfaces, and FOVE eye-tracking headset), so it remains to be seen exactly how Pimax intends on delivering some of their more complex add-ons. Because the “4K” headset doesn’t offer any of these things, this makes it a company-first.

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The count of free items coming to all backers above the $349 Early Bird “5K” headset tier includes:

  • additional face cushion
  • headstrap with integrated audio
  • customized prescription glasses
  • cooling fan
  • eye-tracking module

The company is also promising backers a $100 off coupon for their TPCast-style wireless transmitter.

If this weren’t already enough, with only a few dollars shy of the $4 million mark, Pimax barely had time to offer its final stretch goal—the choice of two Knuckles-style controllers—before the Kickstarter clocked well past $4 million. Now the company says it will be offering both styles of Knuckles controllers, one with a trackpad and another with a thumb-stick.

These two controllers are being offered (presumably at an additional price) on top of the company’s Vive-style controllers and its own version of Valve’s Lighthouse basestations that, thanks to open licensing, offer interoperability with HTC Vive‘s accessories.

Pimax says in their latest update that producing both controllers instead of settling on one isn’t particularly difficult: “Mass production is not an issue for us. Our manufacturing partners are top tier ODM factories, e.g. BYD, with over 180,000 workers. Many of our team members have rich experiences in producing and shipping smart devices. e.g. mobile phones, tablets. Our team members have shipped totally over 100 million in their career.”

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The Final Tally

So here’s a quick re-cap of everything Pimax has to produce to fulfill their promises to Kickstarter backers (some free, some paid add-ons):

  • Special backer-only “5K” headset (dual 2,560 × 1,440 LCD panels)
  • “8K” VR headset (dual 3,840 × 2,160 LCD panels)
  • “8K” X VR headset (same resolution as “8K”, but no upscaler)
  • Lighthouse basestations
  • Knuckle-style controller w/ trackpad
  • Knuckle-style controller w/ thumbstick
  • Cloth headstrap
  • Halo-style headstrap w/ and w/o integrated audio
  • Extra face cushions
  • Prescription eyeglasses frame
  • Cooling fan
  • TPCast-style wireless transmitter
  • Clip-in eye-tracking module
  • Hand motion-tracking module

According to the campaign, headsets are slated to arrive starting January 2018 for both Early Bird “5K” and “8K” headsets, with the bulk of them coming in February 2018. The “8K” X is slated to ship sometime in May 2018.

As the top-funded VR Kickstarter campaign in existence, we’ll be following Pimax as it starts out on its journey to manufacturing and ships out its plethora of headsets and headset accessories to eager backers with the clear hopes that the company delivers on everything it’s promised.

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  • DoctorMemory

    I wish I had the money to get in on this when it was running. Hopefully this is the start of them manufacturing more headsets for commercial sale. Looking forward to the user reviews when they ship and congrats to whoever did get in on it. Looks like you got a terrific deal.

    • kalqlate

      I’m in your boat because I wasn’t paying attention. If reviews of the future shipping product are as stellar as those of the demo versions, it’ll still be worth it at twice the Kickstarter price.

  • Hadar

    I would say quite a few of those tasks are manufactured by third parties. By their own admission the wireless module, eye tracking, hand motion and the scent module (unsurprisingly Japanese :))are all outside sourced.

    The 8K&5K are pretty much the same only with different screens and the 8KX(Real 8K) is a small batch – only 400.

    the whole campaign was for marketing and investor convincing. I broke and pledged…now we wait.

    • kalqlate

      Look for Baidu, Alibaba, or Tencent to pick them up after such a successful Kickstarter. Another $2 billion Oculus story in the making. Good for them!

      • Also, what about the big Chinese Mobile companies that have worldwide distribution? Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and Xiaomi? Unless they are under the ones you listed. They all have billions to their name and would be a better fit?

        • kalqlate

          Good point! I think you’re right. However, like Facebook, the companies I mentioned are currently outside of smartphone market fray, which allows them to perhaps avoid name loyalties and competition that the others you mentioned would face. Also, like Google, they could create an appealing VR platform with a large umbrella for the others to join in comfortably.

  • Nosfar

    I backed the 5k set figure if i liked it enough id give it to my kid and buy the 8k and if i didnt like it id give it to my kid lol and keep my Vive. Though i do worry about the effect of enjoying my vive after going back to 110 after 200fov

  • victor

    I’m not surprised about VR taking off like this. Let’s face it VR industry can only get bigger as it gets better tech and more affordable. Anyone who owns one of todays headsets understands this.

    • impurekind

      Yup.

      I gave my mate ago on my VR headset yesterday, and just like everyone else that’s tried it, he was blown away.

      Pretty much everyone who tries VR gets it.

      • RFC_VR

        I had about 20 people try out my Vives during some curated ‘roomscale plus’ experiments earlier this year. Every single person was completely blown away and raved about their experience to their colleagues/friends.

        However, the barrier to entry is the huge setup cost for capable PC and PC VR hmd. Not a single person from this group of 20 has made this leap, a few have GearVR (free with samsung phone) and 1 has Daydream (free with Pixel).

        But how many owned the first VCR? Or microwave oven? or Cellphone? not many..

        • impurekind

          Yeah, the price is definitely a barrier to entry at the current time, but it will come down in time like all other technologies.

  • JYSquare

    The 5K headset will use OLED screens. The 8K units claim to use CLPL (Customized Low Persistence Liquid) displays to reduce latency more than traditional LCD panels.

    • Hadar

      No, they state on the KS page that 8k and 5k use the same screens only different resolutions. That reddit review is outdated sadly :).

      The 5k BTW will probably be a KS thing only, though they are still debating if to make it a retail product.

      • CoffeeBuzz

        I do not see them making any more 5k . unless there is a significant price difference in the panels used (resolution is the only difference) on KS it was only a $100 difference between 5k and 8k.. for me 8k was the obvious choice for 100 bucks.

        • I dont think they are making more either but if the 5K performs faster (as in fps or hz) than the 8K with its scaler and it has better features than vive/rift then it will have people wanting it.

          • silvaring

            Also they might be able to build a solid mid range VR brand out of the 5K, which is very smart because that market is pretty ripe with PSVR not exactly doing a great job at the moment.

  • Jack Liddon

    Why am I not convinced that any of this will come to pass?

    • Andrew McEvoy

      Because you are a cynic Jack? ;-)

    • Raphael

      Because you don’t bother to research but just rely on random gibberish thoughts floating through a largely derelict head-space?

      • Jack Liddon

        Wow. Some hostile little children in here. I may be cynical, true. I have an Oculus and a Vive, and know that hardware Kickstarter campaigns are a gamble. They are offering tech that bigger and more established companies are having difficulty providing at a reasonable cost. Wireless, knuckles controllers, eye tracking, etc. It’s too good to be true. Y’all need to chill out.

        • Raphael

          They are offering tech that bigger more established firms aren’t having any trouble providing. Where did you get the idea HTC and octopus VR were having trouble bringing pie max spec VR?

          They aren’t going to make obsolete VIVE and cv1 so quickly. Bad business. Hmd VR isn’t a phone you make obsolete every 6 months with a new model.

          Octopusvr started off very small with cardboard and duct tape.

          Pie max developer isn’t starting from such an early point and much of the infrastructure is already there… steamvr. The tracking is already there. The controllers are already there and it’s all moddable.

          So your suspicion is pretty much what I said… based on lack of awareness and understanding so the first thing you jump to is a negative outcome.

          The pro VR journalists are blown away by pimax so that suggests your so_called gut feeling is worth as much as a boiled fish head.

        • Andrew McEvoy

          You asked a question, you got an answer Jack :)

    • Fara Nume

      maybe because you have never seen a Pimax headset in your life.

    • Eddie Barsh

      All of the above

    • victor

      You probably never tried gaming in vr

  • john doe

    This post needs some clarification,

    They are not offering Vive style controllers, the ones depicted are the only options.

    The stretch goals are not necessarily shipping with the headsets. The eye tracking will be mid 2018, and the wireless is targeted for late 2018.

  • Michael Banks

    Alibaba PiMax 8K in 2018 expect $400

  • Callsign Vega

    Long live VR!

  • Evgeni Zharsky

    Honestly I’m pulling for Pimax to succeed. Having said that I can’t help but think this may turn into Tesla Model 3 scenario, lots of hype and lofty expectations but not enough resources to meet production and pre-orders.

    • Even Apple suffer from supply issues when demand is high. Pimax have controlled wave 1 distribution through the limited kickstarter pledges, I think people will expect hiccups or delays on a KS campaign, it is almost seen as a prototype phase after all.

      Wave 2 when they hit commercialisation is the make or break phase, if they pull off the KS pledges then early investment rounds which should be going crazy in the background will allow them to buy mass production and lets not forget, this is China who can mass produce anything better than Western countries due to their population / labour.

      But as you say, they have to succeed in the KS phase first. After that it’s just a cash issue.

  • Pimax have really stirred up the VR industry with these offerings. HTC and Oculus have so far managed to control the top end consumer market but when a small player comes in and says they can do better AND has a class A Kickstarter campaign to prove they are serious then it will cause ripples.

    Chinese products used to be cheap n cheerful but over the years they have started to produce some high quality products (e.g. HTC Vive) which is a change in their industry from a Western perspective. China also has the resources and labour to mass produce anything.

    It will be interesting to see what response HTC and Oculus come up with as Christmas is looming and people looking for the best will be sitting on the fence, they need to offer or announce something very tempting in the next couple of weeks.

    • JoseF

      According to last Oculus Connect4, it seems Oculus is more interested in the masses rather than bring VR-PC at a new level.
      All Oculus Go, SantaCruz prototype, Facebook spaces, etc is focused at exploiting and capitalizing Facebook position and leave all that PC users that founded Oculus at their conception.
      It is good that the fresh Pimax came here and deliver what we (PC user) need which is just more resolution and FOV. I pleged for the 8K.
      CV1 was announced more than 2 years ago and since then nothing new has been announced by Oculus. In a couple of months the Rift will be like a kind of vintage VR.

      • Yeah, good points. With Microsoft now pushing mid range VR in their Mixed Reality program there will be new customers getting interested. It makes sense to be established in the low/mid range instead of just the high-end, HTC have done the same thing with the Focus and the Eclipse so that would leave Pimax as the only high-end headset. Unless the Eclipse is a Vive 2 that is.

    • victor

      China also leaders on drones

    • Icebeat

      HTC is not a china company, is South Korean

  • impurekind

    I expect it will get a lot more money from some big investors now that the kickstarter was so successful.

  • Xron

    Pimax reddit Page
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Pimax/comments/7a1wve/apology_letter_updated_project_status_and_risks/

    Please check the latest status as follows:

    Eye tracking We have 3 partners, one of them have already produced commercial level eye tracking module for vive, the other one is Adhawk introduced by our backer. We are evaluating the technical solutions and the detailed schedule, our target is to ship the modules from Q2 2018. Risk level: low

    Wireless Our partner has the experience on commercial wireless products, we are working with our partner in adaptation, the shipping time estimated to be Q3 2018. Risk level: medium

    Hand motion module We have finished the technical verifications and demo, currently working with our key partners on the detailed schedule. Risk level: low

    Inside-out tracking We have designed the interface, currently working with partners with the detailed schedule. Risk level: low

    Scent enabling We are working with Japanese partner to discuss the solution and development schedule Risk level: low

    VR frame/cooling fan Estimated to ship on Q2 2018. Risk level: no risk

    All in one module Will be developed in-house. Estimated to ship on Q3 2018. Risk level: low

  • Mr. New Vegas

    The big players aka Rift, HTC, MS with their certification, Sony (for PS5) need to understand that people WANT quality and ready to pay for it, people dont want soapy looking SDE ridden pixilated VR with god rays, people want next gen NOW.

    • Malachy

      I don’t think the big players would care too much, check the community page on the Kickstarter, it took a month to get 11 backers in New York for example. The numbers are tiny in comparison with what Oculus and Hive push every day. I’m glad Pimax give the option to go next gen now rather than wait until 2019 but most will be happy to wait.

      • Andrew McEvoy

        Nearly 6000 backers in the end though. It took a while but then there was a too good to be true nervousness in the early days. Check out the link below of a hands on review that I posted it looks like a legit piece of kit.

        I doubt people will wait til the end of the year after next year to get a 200 fov 8k high end hmd if their budget and computer specs can cover it to have that now to be fair.

    • gothicvillas

      I have Vive and totally love it. My rig is based on Titan X GPU. I can play Vive games on highest settings and get required 90 frames. But if i get my hands on Pimax 8k now today, im not so sure i could achieve the same.
      What we need is a revolution in graphic card department. On the other hand, devs will have to make their games compatible to 210 fov. I think 2019-2020 is the year for CV2 (8k etc).

      • Thoemse

        I disagree. I also run a Vive with a Titan X and backed for a Pimax 8K. Why?
        Right now we super sample to resolutions beyond what the Pimax asks from our GPU. We do all that to reduce the horrible SDE. We are wasting a lot of raw GPU power for a small gain – most of the gain from the supersampling is for nothing because the pixel grid is simply there. If you put in a Nvidia Volta or the generation after it to render thepicture for the Vive it wont look any better.

        It is much more effective to use a high resolution display with high pixel fillrate and render it with lower resolution (wich is what Pimax does) than the other way round.
        The Vive (and rift) are nothing but a big compromise. They use the less then optimal OLED screens because there weren’t any LCDs fast enough (ghosting) with the highest resolution they could get at that time. I like my vive and I believe thery made the best HMD they could but it looks like it is allready old tech. That’s not a bad thing because low FOV and SDE puts people off VR.

      • Mr. New Vegas

        I have 1080Ti and runs most games in Ultra/60fps, so with lower settings you can achieve higher fps.
        BUT its NOT the main reas, even if you game on lower resolution like the one you game now but on 4K display, because the pixels are so small so tight together, you get no SDE and better, sharper image

  • Xodroc

    Pimax is clearly showing evidence of Zenimax secrets previously thought to be leaked only by Carmack. /sarcasm

    The future is looking good.

  • oompah

    My suggestion: Have Foveated rendering starting from centre of eye. Say start from centre where eye hits the screen & paint bigger circles/rectangles , more detailed in centre & less outside , this will make rendering faster upto 4-5 times.

    For the next version plan for fiber optics. Do all processing in a backpack but take a bunch of optical fibers from it to the top of head then using micro mirrors , paint the picture in front of eyes or directly inside eyes.

  • Congrats to them. But now they have an enormous work to make… and I expect at minimum some delays…

  • ConceptVBS

    All talk, no walk. Chinese vaporware.