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.
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.
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.”
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.