razer hdk vr headset osvr (6)

Today Razer and Sensics, along with a bevy of VR industry supporters, have announced the OSVR (Open Source Virtual Reality) initiative alongside the $199 ‘Hacker Dev Kit’ VR headset which is due to launch this summer.

Hacker Dev Kit

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The Hacker Dev Kit is an open source VR headset from Razer, designed with the help of Sensics a company that’s been working in the world of professional head mounted displays for more than 10 years. According to Razer and Sensics, the HDK VR headset will have a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 60Hz display with a 100 degree (diagonal) field of view. Hardware IPD and diopter adjustments will compliment the unit’s dual-element aspheric optics, freeing glasses users from the need to wear them while using the headset, according to the companies.

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Sensics CEO Yuval Boger, who said that work started on this project some 18 months ago, tells me that the HDK VR headset is designed to be modular and hackable.

“Everything about this product is going to be open source,” he said. “You could make your own if you wanted to or you can hack it—we’re inviting people to hack it. If you just want the optics or you just want the board, you can go ahead. It’s designed to make it easy for the hacker.”

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While the VR headset will be sold for $199, its entire design will be made available on the OSVR website so that the makers among us can build their own. The magnetic front cover will be an easy target for initial customization, allowing people to make their own by 3D printing or other means. The unit’s control box will have a USB 3.0 port for accessories while the headset itself will contain two USB 3.0 connections for internal expansion.

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razer hdk vr headset osvr (2)Boger tells me that the HDK’s dual-element lenses mean the elimination of the need for pre-warping and chromatic aberration correction.

“The [Oculus Rift] DK2 only has one element, we have two, so we can control distortion, color separation, and blurriness.”

The Hacker Dev Kit VR headset doesn’t have positional tracking currently, but Boger says that anyone could add it easily thanks to the open source nature of the device and the OSVR framework that it will interface with—Razer and Sensics may even release a positional tracking module at some point.

The HDK VR headset release date and price is planned to be June, 2015 for $199.

OSVR Framework

razer hdk vr headset osvr (3)The Open Source Virtual Reality framework is the software that will enable the HDK, encompassing an SDK that’s designed to support multiple VR headsets, peripherals, and game engines. The companies are not beating around the bush with what they’ve set out to achieve with the imitative:

“OSVR is an ecosystem designed from the ground up to set an open standard for Virtual Reality input devices, games and output with the sole goal of providing the best possible game experience in the Virtual Reality space,” the companies say.

“Today if you’re a game developer, you have to decide if there’s enough HMDs on the market to write to one and then if you write to Oculus and you haven’t written for Sony, you haven’t written for Razer, etc. It’s a mess,” Boger said. “It reminds me that 20 years ago that if you wanted to use WordPerfect you had to make sure there was a printer driver. And then windows came along and printer drivers came along and as long as you have a driver for your printer, any application could write to it.”

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Out of the gate, the OSVR has support from a handful of known companies in the VR and gaming sectors:


HMD Manufacturers

  • Sensics
  • Vrvana
  • GameFace

Game Developers

  • Gearbox Software
  • Techland
  • Bully Entertainment
  • Untold Games
  • International Game Developers Association


Input Device Manufacturers

  • Razer
  • Leap Motion
  • Nod Labs
  • SensoMotoric Instruments
  • Virtuix
  • VRPN
  • YEI
  • Sixense
  • Bosch
  • Hillcrest Labs
  • Pebbles Interfaces



  • Otoy
  • TrinityVR
  • PrioVR
  • Nextgen Interactions
  • High Fidelity


The OSVR SDK, which is planned for public release in Q2, 2015, currently has support for Unity, with support for Unreal Engine 4 coming later in January, followed by HeroEngine and others further down the road. A plugin for the Oculus Rift DK2 is also planned to enable the headset to work with games and applications created with the OSVR SDK.

We’re expecting to get a chance to check out the Hacker Dev Kit and OSVR SDK in the very near future, 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."
  • crim3

    “anyone could at it (posicional tracking) easily” :)

  • Jacob Pederson

    This sounds like a step back to the DK1 in many ways, but the price and open source aspect is very nice. Anybody know how the horizontal FOV compares with DK1 (which was measured horizontally at 88 degrees)?

  • pittsburghjoe

    “dual-element lenses” what sorcery is this?

  • Psuedonymous

    “Boger tells me that the HDK’s dual-element lenses mean the elimination of the need for pre-warping and chromatic aberration correction.”

    I can see a doublet lens reducing the need to correct for chromatic and some spherical aberration, but there’s no possibility it will ‘eliminate the need for pre-warping’, certainly not while maintaining a 100° field of view.

    • vrguy

      Every optical system has distortion (see my blog post http://vrguy.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-is-geometric-distortion-and-why.html ), but at some point, the distortion becomes low enough that it might not be necessary to pay the price (in CPU/GPU load or in other ‘currency’) to correct it.

      Geometrical distortion can be corrected in software. Chromatic aberration can be mostly corrected. But if an optical system provides blurred (defocused) image away from the center, that is going to be practically impossible to correct.

      The HDK has two elements and thus more degrees of freedom in the design. It makes it easier for the designer to get an image that is clear throughout the viewing area and to control distortion to the point where it might not be needed to correct it.

      Two notes for clarity:
      1. Geometrical distortion, color aberration and focus are not the only parameters by which the quality of an optical system is judged. You can also look at eye box, eye relief and other factors.
      2. Adding more elements has some drawbacks. Two elements are roughly twice as expensive to make as one element and roughly weigh twice as much. So, ‘no free lunch’ but the HDK introduces an alternative design that should be seriously considered by the community

      • TonyStark

        Thanks for that clarification VRguy. Truly, optics is a dark arts magic that is generally solved, even in high-end D-SLRs, by a *combination* of precision optical engineering, and clever real-time software processing. A pure optical solution would be ideal; the price/performance tradeoffs are worth investigating. I don’t think currently that the pre-warping function is anywhere near the heaviest toll on the GPU for high-fidelity 3D environment rendering.

  • Actually looks pretty nice. Adjustable lenses is a plus, and they moved the circuitry to the top meaning closer to the head, so should be more comfortable.

    One thing that irks me though is the open gaps in to the screen >_O If I see it correctly there should be need for a can of compressed air with every kit, heh. Would love to see an actual demo of software running on it.

    Also, I wonder how many different headsets and SDKs we will end up with o_O

  • bteitler

    Cool.. I’m glad to see more headset choices coming down the road. However, what I really want is a robust wireless headset with low persistence (and possibly on board time warp?), and I don’t care what resolution!

  • Don Gateley

    This! I’ll wait. Following the curve with it will be so much more fun than the Samsung/Oculus exclusive and limited content port (and probable profit center.)

    I do hope the electronics can go to 4k (including a DisplayPort option) even if the displays can’t yet. It would be so nice if only a display swap and an attachable DP connector were needed to take advantage of technical advances in resolution.

    Glad y’all plan on keeping a close eye on this. Saves me the trouble. :-)

  • Druss

    Amazing, I think Oculus has the best people in the world working on the software side of things and with their FB money they have no excuse not hiring the best engineers for the hardware side, only a huge community working together could beat them. My money is on a future between this and maybe two company closed source HMDs, kind of like Linux and Windows & OSX. Only downside is Razer, their products are not very well made… Otherwise this is a very exciting development!

  • I_Did_My_Best

    Same as druss, I really don’t like the way razer handles things right now (someone said project hydra?) .

    The price was surprising, since its razer, but 60hz? Really? How would that even work? Would it be worth it to pay 100$ less and get 15/30 fps less too? Even the 1080p seems a bit short, if this unit goes out in summer, and 3months later oculus gets a 1440/4k cv1 out… Even if it’s just a sdk.
    And the whole “open-source” seems like a “it’s like linux! It’s good! FREEDOM”

    Let’s wait and see, but I’m sure my money will still go to facebook, or valve (who knows) I guess.

  • Don Gateley

    You only need greater than 60 Hz for gaming. For every VR device sold for that purpose there will be 10,000 sold for other purposes like media, virtual touring (e.g. Google Street View in 3D), YouTubeVR, and an enormous range of other experiential purposes. Then there are the functional ones such as 3D design, virtual catalogs and grocery stores or real estate shopping from a distance to name just an unimaginative few.

    It’s open nature will provide an unimpeded path to development and deployment of all of this content and utility. Something we are not going to see from Samsung or Facebook/Oculus as things are looking now with their need to control the portal to exploit it’s future revenue potential. Milk indeed.

    The piecemeal open design means that you won’t have to wait for Oculus and its clients to provide higher resolution or sensor advances. Every part of it will have its own independent competitive market. Waiting for Oculus has not been very fruitful. They’re still showing Crescent Bay at CES!

    • I_Did_My_Best

      I don’t get why 60hz would be “enough” for media applications, while it clearly isn’t for gaming.
      I get your point, movies aren’t running at 90 fps anyway etc, sure (for now at least).
      Doesn’t mean you won’t feel the delay between your head movements and what’s going on inside.
      That’s what is important here. (or at least, what I’m taling about)
      Go watch a movie on riftmax with your dk2 capped at 75hz, and then watch it again capped at 60, and tell me you don’t feel the difference.
      And it is also a BIG part of the whole motion sickness going on, which some people are more or less susceptible to feel.
      If you believe 60hz is enough, that’s your loss. I’ll still be waiting for my 120hz screens.

      And the rest of your comment is just silly. That’s exactly what I was talking about.
      That’s what a “pro-linux” developer says about windows.
      They don’t intend to make products “for the people” without getting money from it. That’s not how the world works.
      You do know you’re talking about a Razer product, right? Razer isn’t really the “people”-oriented kind of enterprise.

      If you think the audience Oculus is trying to affect is the kind of people that only runs linux and anything “open-source” and “not made to get money of it”, well, that’s fine with me.

      • Don Gateley

        I could respond cogently but describing my view as “silly” pretty much kills my motivation.

  • Don Gateley

    Hey, I tried to sign up with Razer to follow this and to do so they demand my “comms ID” without giving a clue what that is or how to get one. Anyone figured that out?

  • TonyStark

    I actually think that the lack of positional tracking is a genuine deal-breaker. The difference between HMDs with pos tracking and those without is the difference between “that’s kind os neat” and “HOLY GOD! I’M IN ANOTHER WORLD”… what Carmack has called “contact religion” or Abrash calls “genuine presence”. Obviously, the trick is: how do we get positional tracking without having to resort to an external camera? Whoever solves that one, and patents it, stands to make it big.

    • William Wallace

      Ben covered how the magnetic distortion tracking of stem technology that can be used with this is superior to carmys camera on oculus drift. Game over. 2 billion and carmys with psychiatric issues history get checkmated by osvr doing end run round walled gardens. Palmy kool aid drinkers looking like fools.