Acer and Starbreeze announced that they are shipping the first run of StarVR HMDs to IMAX in preparation for the IMAX VR Center, which is set to open in LA before the year’s end.
Starbreeze first announced the StarVR HMD to the world during E3 2015. The company brought a trailer full of StarVR HMDs to the event and was showcasing The Walking Dead VR.
Starbreeze is developing the StarVR HMD as a premium VR experience. It features the widest field of view ever seen in an HMD, thanks to its use of dual 1440p screens--one for each eye. StarVR can provide 210 degrees of visible screen real estate, which brings you further into the experience. We had a chance to try out the early prototype at Immersed 2015, and we can say from experience that the much wider field of view makes an incredible difference: The StarVR HMD gives you peripheral vision within the experience.
Last year, when we spoke with Starbreeze about the hardware, the company wasn’t clear about its retail strategy. The company believes that there is ultimately a place for a high-end luxury HMD, much like there’s space for exotic cars in the automotive industry and watches that command tens of thousands of dollars in the jewelry industry. We got the impression that the company was still planning to sell its HMD directly to consumers, but now we’re not as sure. The current strategy involves a partnership with IMAX to install VR arcades around the world. It seems as though Starbreeze is going to focus on commercial installations over individual consumer sales—at least for the time being.
Earlier this year, Starbreeze partnered with Acer to manufacture the StarVR HMD. The two companies committed to shipping at volume in 2017 and had also announced that they would deliver a “small volume of units” before the end of the year. As it turns out, that "small volume" is probably the batch of units headed to the IMAX VR Center.
Acer and Starbreeze have not identified how many StarVR HMDs IMAX will be receiving, and it’s not clear if any other locations or customers will receive hardware this year. Both companies have been tight-lipped about the unit price, although if the StarVR HMD ends up being a commercial-only product, we may never get a formal announcement about that.