OSVR HDK2 Brings High-End Display To Budget-Friendly VR; Razer Seeds Dev Incentive Program

OSVR announced an updated version of its open source virtual reality hardware development kit, the HDK2, which includes a far superior display.

New Hardware

The first generation of the OSVR HDK featured a 5.5-inch 1080p 60 Hz OLED screen, which pales in comparison to the screens you’ll find in the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Both of the top tier consumer HMDs have adopted the same resolution standard of two 1080 x 1200 displays placed side-by-side, which effectively gives you 2160 x 1200 resolution. OSVR has adopted that resolution for its latest developer hardware. The updated display also runs at 90 Hz, which means it shares the same display specifications as the Rift and the Vive.

When you read about VR HMDs, the term “screen door effect” gets tossed around a lot. SDE is the term for seeing the grid between individual pixels on a display. The true solution for this issue will likely end up being higher resolution, but OSVR has a technique that cuts down on the SDE effect in the meantime. The IQE (Image Quality Enhancer) is a filter that is added to the screen with the intent of reducing the visible SDE. This filter can be found on the HDK 1.4, and it has made its way over to the new higher-resolution HDK2, as well.

In addition to the 2160x1200 dual-screen setup, the OSVR HDK2 includes an updated face cushion. The HDK1.4's face cushion is rather thin and doesn’t provide much support for your cheeks, and it leaves the lenses too close to your eyes, even at the deepest relief setting. Razer said the OSVR HDK2 includes a thicker cushion that keeps the lenses a little further from your eyes and offers better support for your face.

The OSVR HDK2 includes the same IR tracking system that was introduced with the HDK1.4. The kit includes a small IR camera, and the HMD's faceplate includes an array of IR LEDs that the camera can follow. Razer told us there are no immediate plans to replace the tracking system.

Ever since the original OSVR HDK was announced, Razer touted the fact that the kit will be upgradeable with better components as the technology advances. The IR faceplate and tracking system has been the only update so far, but technically the screen and the lenses can be replaced, as well. There will not be an upgrade path for current HDK owners to adopt the improved display featured in the HDK2, and OSVR doesn’t have any current plans to offer the dual-screen option as an upgrade for HDK1 owners.

Razer said it intends to continue to support both versions of its HMD going forward, though. The HDK1 will cater to the low-cost VR market by offering lower hardware requirements than typically needed for VR. The HDK2 should offer a visual experience comparable to the Rift and the Vive, but it will also require the same minimum system requirements as the other consumer VR HMDs. The upshot is that the HDK2 costs hundreds of dollars less than the Rift and Vive.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Faceplate ModuleMainboardDisplay ModuleOptics ModuleHMD Mechanical ModuleBelt Box Module
IR Faceplate providing positional information with 360 degree tracking for responsive, multi directional input.Sensor hub with integrated accelerometer, gyroscope and compassDual Display 2160x1200 display technology running at 90fps. Features a low persistence OLED silver screen with 441 PPI.High performance dual lens system for ultra-sharp imagesRemovable face maskAdditional USB 3.0 connectivity
Comes with an IR Camera operating at 100hz.External USB 3.0 connection for additional accessoriesIQE (Image Quality Enhancer) technology for reduced screen door effect.Enlarged eye-box for fuss-free setup, right out-of-boxBamboo charcoal microfiber foam layer for additional comfortSurround Sound Audio codec integrated
Row 2 - Cell 0 Additional 2 x USB 3.0 connectors for internal expansionRow 2 - Cell 2 Low geometric distortion and color corrected image for faster renderingThicker foam padding for cheekbones & nose bridge rubber insert for enhanced comfortEasier cable management and ergonomics
Row 3 - Cell 0 Re-programmable for additional functionality.Row 3 - Cell 2 Individual eye focus for personalized use without glasses.Row 3 - Cell 4 Signal boosters
Row 4 - Cell 0 Row 4 - Cell 1 Row 4 - Cell 2 *diopters cover +4.5 to -2 adjustments to cater to majority of users.Row 4 - Cell 4 Row 4 - Cell 5

Money For Devs

OSVR also announced a development incentive fund to help promote the creation of content for the open platform. The OSVR Developer Fund is an open content accelerator program designed to encourage developers to integrate OSVR support into their games. Razer is leading the charge and getting the OSVR Developer Fund off the ground by kicking in the first $5 million, but the fund will be open for any member of OSVR (there are over 300 companies involved) to contribute capital.

The developer fund works in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of agreement. The fund is open to all “qualified, participating VR content developers” regardless of the size of the studio. Successful applicants will receive funds in the form of guaranteed game code purchases to compensate for adding OSVR support to their games. OSVR will then use the codes for its own promotional purposes.

“We understand content developers have various development challenges, and we’re committed to helping them get ahead of those barriers,” said Justin Cooney, OSVR director of developer relations, Razer. “The OSVR Developer Fund helps to support initial sales while enabling developers to contribute to the VR industry as a whole. Together, OSVR and its content partners enjoy the realization of a shared vision for the future of VR.”

OSVR will also provide marketing and promotional support to successful candidates, including the potential for their games to be featured in official OSVR bundle packages or join OSVR at major events.

OSVR won’t be restricting developers who receive funding in any way. They won’t have to contend with DRM policies, and they will be free to promote their games on any other platform. OSVR said publishers will also “retain full creative control of their content.”  

Information about applying for the OSVR Development Fund can be found on the OSVR website. The OSVR HDK2 will be available in July, and Razer said the kit will be priced at $399. HDK1.4 kits will remain available for $299 for the foreseeable future.

Update, June 13, 2016, 8:27am PT: Corrected a typo inside the table about the display specs.

Follow Kevin Carbotte @pumcypuhoy. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years. 

  • bit_user
    Thanks for reporting this, Kevin. It's certainly exciting to hear they'll be more competitive with Vive and Rift, while retaining a more accessible, entry-level option.

    I hope Tom's will keep OSVR on your radar screen and remember to ask publishers about their plans & efforts to support it.
  • Daphnevern
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