The SteamVR Headset You’ve Been Waiting For?

Three weeks in the past, seemingly with out anybody noticing, self-described serial entrepreneur Or Kuntzman introduced a $450 SteamVR headset referred to as “DecaGear 1” claimed as having HP Reverb decision, facial features monitoring, hip monitoring, and Contact-like controllers with Index-like finger monitoring.

Wait, what? When you discovered your self questioning whether or not or not that is even actual, so did we. Within the product’s announcement, Kuntzman thanked Valve for assist:

“We’ve had frequent assist from the Valve group with SteamVR integration and a few elements of the system’s growth (thanks Valve).”

This drew our consideration, so we reached out to Valve to verify this declare and obtained the next response:

“Whereas we didn’t work with DECA on the design, we did – as we at all times at all times intention to – present technical assist on SteamVR integration, and many others. We’re excited to do this headset when it turns into out there,” a Valve spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.

My first tweet.
Seems it is actually onerous to construct a VR headset and proper now my life kinda facilities round VR, video games, engineering, machine imaginative and prescient SO I made a decision to sit down down and tweet about it.

— Or Kuntzman (@KuntzmanOr) October 17, 2020

That in fact doesn’t imply the corporate, Megadodo Simulation Video games, can ship this product at $450 efficiently. It simply means we verified this one declare about working with Valve on SteamVR integration.

 

Who Is Or Kuntzman?

In keeping with his LinkedIn web page, Kuntzman and his firm is at present situated in Thailand. He was educated at Tel Aviv College in Israel and now he desires to expedite the expansion of VR. 

I’m a Co-Founder and CEO of Megadodo Simulation Video games, the place we deal with multiplayer digital actuality by means of nonstop improvements in laptop imaginative and prescient, haptics, facial monitoring, finger monitoring and social interplay as a way to allow a brand new degree of presence and expedite the transfer from conventional gaming to VR. 

Between 2004 and 2009, the web page says he co-founded an promoting tech startup referred to as Targetpoint, which was then offered to “Cydoor Desktop Media”, which Adware Report classifies as spy ware and Symantec AntiVirus lists as adware. He co-founded Set up Labs Ltd, in line with the web page, together with his involvement listed as extending from 2011 to 2013. In keeping with a 2018 Buzzfeed Information investigation, Set up Labs “distributed adware and different software program categorised as doubtlessly undesirable applications (PUP) by safety and anti-virus companies on account of them inflicting frustration for customers, and infrequently putting in different applications with out permission“.

We contacted Kuntzman by way of direct message on LinkedIn and requested about Targetpoint and Set up Labs. Kuntzman wrote again:

“Goal level was an textual content promoting search firm, we supplied search mechanism with built-in monetisation to web sites, till Google got here and supply the identical. However we handle to promote the corporate earlier than it occur. set up labs was an adware set up expertise which possibly seems like a shady enterprise now, however again then it was mainstream. Yahoo and Google combat on world search share they usually principally funded all of the adware trade by paying for his or her toolbar installations 80% of our revenues got here from Google, the remaining was yahoo , Babylon , and many others.”

Kuntzman is listed within the Panama Papers leaks as related to one other adware firm, CoolMirage Ltd, however the database for these leaks warns that there are “reputable makes use of for offshore corporations and trusts”. He instructed us he was the one supply of funding for Megadodo till a yr in the past, when “one other investor joined”, and now they’ve 19 individuals working full-time with 17 engineers.

 

The DecaGear Headset

Kuntzman wrote that they’re planning to launch an infographic to point out the DecaGear headset’s main parts, with plans for a solution web site to go reside this week “with extra particular particulars that repeatedly” are requested about of their Discord group.

“There’s some skepticism within the air, which is completely comprehensible,” the Megadodo founder wrote.

Round 7,000 individuals signed up for the DecaGear waitlist for extra info, in line with Kuntzman, with the positioning additionally providing “for under $10, pre order right now.” The positioning lists the DecaGear’s “1st batch delivery in Might 2021” and the headset is claimed to function twin 2160×2160 panels at 90 Hz. The PPI is listed as 1058, so given the opposite specs it’s possible the identical panel utilized by HP.

Monitoring is dealt with by four cameras on the entrance corners, related placement to Fb’s Oculus Quest line. Megadodo claims sub-mm precision and sub-mm jitter in “most environments”. 

Growing a top quality inside-out monitoring system that works constantly in quite a lot of house environments is a substantial problem. HTC’s Vive Cosmos obtained heavy criticism for monitoring issues at launch, and Fb’s Oculus Rift S wanted post-launch monitoring patches to work correctly in aggressive titles.

However Megadodo doesn’t appear to lack laptop imaginative and prescient expertise. DecaGear’s distinctive function is ‘FaceFlow’. Two cameras, one within the nostril hole the opposite above the lenses, apparently work collectively to trace face actions.

Kuntzman’ announcement expresses his need for VR to “mission a larger vary of human sensations into the digital house”. The demo video reveals FaceFlow is greater than only a idea, nevertheless it seems to be tough across the edges. About half the corporate is engaged on the SLAM and controller monitoring, in line with the founder, and “Monitoring is completed onboard , we’ve got three totally different hardware variations there that embrace chipsets from ARM, Qualcomm and NXP.” The following couple months are about optimizing the expertise, he wrote.

The Controllers & Hip Tracker

The $449 bundle comes with twin controllers and a hip tracker.

The controller face resembles Oculus Contact with a thumbstick, two motion buttons, and menu button. There’s additionally a Contact-like monitoring ring, presumably housing LEDs for the headset’s cameras to trace.

However the deal with takes inspiration from Valve’s Index controllers. You put on them with the strap and the deal with can sense how onerous you’re squeezing it. Meaning you need to be capable to naturally throw by letting go, and presumably crush cans in Half-Life: Alyx.

And just like the Index controllers, these have 5-finger capacitive sensing, so that you could be expressive together with your arms in social VR.

Additionally included within the bundle is a hip-tracker referred to as DecaMove. Present VR methods don’t know which approach you’re going through, so you progress within the course of your head or your controllers (it’s normally configurable).

DecaMove is meant to allow you to transfer within the course your physique is going through, so you possibly can individually intention your controllers, and go searching, with out affecting your course of motion.

PC VR’s Savior?

As if a excessive decision inside-out tracked headset with face monitoring wasn’t sufficient, Megadodo is teasing a $49 wi-fi addon, DecaAir. We don’t understand how this could really work, although, and we didn’t get an opportunity to ask Kuntzman about it throughout our transient chat on LinkedIn.

Final week, Kuntzman tweeted a hyperlink to Valve’s Steam Survey, which reveals simply 2% of PC players at present use a PC VR headset.

Lower than 2% of steam customers have a VR headset. We now have tons of room to growhttps://t.co/B2VwBzgLLV#VR #steamvr #VirtualReality

— Or Kuntzman (@KuntzmanOr) October 20, 2020

Oculus Quest builders inform us they’ve seen a surge in content material gross sales all through 2020, and Quest 2’s launch was even larger. So why isn’t SteamVR seeing the identical form of progress?  Essentially the most used headsets, as reported by that very same Survey, are 2019’s Oculus Rift S and 2016’s HTC Vive. The Rift S was partially designed by Lenovo and appeared extra centered on price reducing than shifting the medium ahead. HTC’s Vive successor failed to realize traction with shoppers. Valve delivered a lot of improvements with the Index, however at $999 the complete package is out of attain for many. A number of individuals have pre-ordered an HP Reverb G2, however its nonetheless a bit pricier than the soon-to-be-retired Rift S. Is the PC VR market ready on inexpensive innovation? Possibly. That’s at the very least what Megadodo appears to be aiming for.

Solely time will inform if Megadodo can really meet its lofty objectives. Even when the corporate really builds a handful of those headsets, that’s nonetheless a good distance away from affordably mass producing them. We’ll present updates as quickly as we be taught extra about this effort. 

Managing editor Ian Hamilton contributed to this report.

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