Ready for an 8K VR Headset? The much-hyped Pimax project arrived on Kickstarter two days ago. It’s a VR headset that blows away anything you’ve experienced in virtual reality. And Pimax blew past their $200,000 Kickstarter goal, raising $730,000 with 43 days to go.
[Update: as of October 2, Pimax has raised over 1,292,000 in funding with 31 days to go].
We’ve had mixed results with the Kickstarter projects we’ve backed (some good, some not), but Pimax has a track record here. They’ve produced 30,000 units of a 4K model which has garnered good reviews. For an initial run at an 8K VR headset, they may very well pull this off. An initial version showed up at CES 2017, so they have working demo models.
The Pimax 8K VR Headset
Pimax is offering both a 5K model with dual 1440p (5K) displays or an 8K model with dual 4K displays (8K). For the latter, it’s not actually 8K – the resolution is 4k per eye (3840 x 2160 per eye). Still, that’s 16.2 million eye-popping pixels instead of 2.6 million that current high-end HMDs offer.
Both models almost double the field of view (FOV) you’ll find in Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Instead of 110°, it’s a remarkable 200° FOV.
As Eurogamer describes it,
The field of vision has also roughly doubled to wrap around into your peripheral vision, which apparently makes Vive and Rift feel like wearing binoculars. Latency and refresh rates are also apparently low therefore reducing motion sickness.
An open VR platform
Here’s what most interests us: Pimax is promising an open system. The HMDs will be compatible with SteamVR, Valve’s VR API, and the Oculus Store (most likely through an external app such as Revive). If you already have the HTC Vive setup, all you’ll need is the Pimax VR headset for room-scale VR – in 8K.
As VR Source notes, Pimax is positioning itself as a developer platform. An SDK has already been released and accessories are coming. You’ll be able to add modules to the headset, including one by Leap Motion that tracks your hands without the need for hand controllers.
If the Leap Motion module delivers, that might be the kiss of death for Intel’s Project Alloy (which is already on life-support). But what was former CEO Andy Grove’s guiding motto? Only the paranoid survive.
Just in case you were wondering, the 8K model will require some serious computing power. And Pimax is even offering an “8K X” model that will need a next-generation GPU.
Graphics chip producer Nvidia can’t move fast enough.
More basic, more high-end
With Microsoft’s new headsets on their way next month, VR will definitely become more affordable and accessible. But the Pimax 8K VR headset shows that high-end HMD’s will continue to develop. And their cost will remain high when you factor in the computing power.
We’ll have to see to what degree convenience triumphs quality. It did with digital music and so far, VR has continued along the same path – the Samsung Gear VR is the largest selling headset to date. That presents a dilemma for any organization diving into virtual reality. Do you spread a watered-down version of VR around or go with more limited but deeply compelling experiences?
We anticipate that Pimax will raise millions by the time their crowdfunding campaign their crowdfunding wraps up. For more details, you can check out the project on Kickstarter.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.