Update, 01/05/2017, 4:00pm PST: The original article indicated that the Pico Neo VR includes the tracking system and controllers as a package. Pico Technology reached out to clarify that the headset is sold without the tracking system. The Pico Tracker and wand controllers are sold separately.
Self-contained, tether-free VR HMDs are coming to market sooner than you probably think; Pico Technology, for its part, is preparing to release one this year.
High-quality, untethered VR with 6DoF tracking is the current holy grail of VR. You can opt for a high-end experience with a PC-connected VR system, such as HTC’s Vive and Oculus’ Rift HMDs. Those VR systems allow you to move around within virtual experiences and offer a way to bring your hands into the experience, but the need for a high-end gaming PC to run them limits where you can use the system.
Your other option is a mobile VR system, such as Samsung’s Gear VR or Google’s Daydream View, which rely on smartphones to run the experiences. Mobile VR is a compelling proposition when the price is a consideration, but you can’t compare the experiences that mobile VR system offer to the advanced experiences that PC-connected VR systems offer.
Logically, the best solution for the limitations of each option would be to combine the best features of mobile VR with the best features of PC connected VR. In fact, some of the biggest companies in the VR industry have already shown prototype examples of such a solution. In September 2016, Intel showed off Project Alloy, a self-contained VR system with a Skylake-based PC built into the headset, and Oculus followed up by revealing Project Santa Cruz, a self-contained Rift headset concept, in October at Oculus Connect 3.
Intel's and Oculus' self-contained VR systems show a lot of promise, but those systems are nothing but internal prototypes at this stage. We have no idea when or if those will surface as consumer products.
Enter Pico Neo CV
The VR market is fresh, and there’s a lot of room for newcomers to make a mark before the tech giants gobble up this space for themselves. Pico Technology is making big moves to snatch a piece of VR market share before that happens. The company revealed Pico Neo CV, a self-contained, high-resolution VR HMD with optional optical tracking and motion controllers.
The Pico Neo CV is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SoC, and Pico Technology leveraged Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR SDK to use the SoC to its full potential. The HMD includes two 1.5K 90Hz displays and built-in Hi-Fi speakers that support AM3D’s 3D spatial rendering engine.
The Pico Neo CV works as a portable standalone unit for 360-degree video and basic gaming. The Pico Neo CV also offers a fully tracked mode with an external sensor for 6DoF movement tracking and two motion controllers to complete the package.
Pico Technology didn’t announce the price or release date for the Pico Neo CV, but the company did say it would release the hardware this year.
“Our talented Pico Technology team designed the Pico Neo CV with a consumer-first approach so that users can simply put it on and go without being tied to a computer, console or mobile phone,” said Paul Viglienzone, vice president, business development, Pico Technology. “As the premier global center of innovation and technology, CES is the perfect place for us to debut the Pico Neo CV, as well as showcase our entire suite of Pico VR products, as the breakthrough headset prepares for launch in 2017.”
Pico Technology is showcasing the Pico Neo CV and the developer kit version, Pico Neo DK, at CES. If you’re at the show, you can stop by to see the hardware for yourself. If you aren’t able to attend the conference, you can find more information at Pico Technolgy’s website.