Japanese startup Diver-X is looking to launch a SteamVR-compatible headset that seems to be taking a few ideas from popular anime Sword Art Online, which prominently features a fully immersive metaverse. While it’s not a brain-computer interface like the “full dive” NerveGear featured in the show, the heavy-weight hardware presents a pretty interesting approach to VR headset design.
Called HalfDive, the Tokyo-based company says its taking advantage of the sleeping position to “enabl[e] human activity in its lowest energetic state.”
Since it’s worn laying down, the creators say they’re freed from many of the design constraints that conventional VR headset makers are used to pursuing with the introduction of things like pancake optics and microdisplays. Since the weight isn’t on your neck, it doesn’t have to be light or slim.
Instead, HalfDive is perched on a base that allows it to include things like a 10 aspherical lens stack for a reported 134-degree field of view (FOV), and what Diver-X calls a “significantly improved image quality” out of its 1,600 × 1,440 pixels per-eye dual displays.
After all, HalfDive is meant to be a mostly stationary experience, so users really aren’t meant to physically move outside of turning their heads left and right, something the company calls “4.5DOF (degrees of freedom), further calling it “virtual 6DOF.”
The company says its including support the avatar movement simulation mentioned above in addition to SteamVR base station tracking, which may be used for its still to-be-revealed controller. We’re eager to see just how that’s supposed to work when HalfDive gets closer to its Kickstarter launch, which is coming on December 6th, 2021.
That said, Diver-X has revealed surprisingly little for such a unique design concept. So far we know the system’s locomotion method will be fairly passive too; locomotion is controlled by ankle-worn controllers which depend on the degree of tilt.
A hand controller hasn’t been completely revealed yet, although a blurred image released in late September suggests it will be something akin to Valve’s SteamVR controllers (aka ‘Knuckles’).
— Diver-X (@DiverX_VR) September 30, 2021
To immersive the other senses, HalfDive also features four speakers—that’s two more than basically all VR headsets out there. The company has also made mention of a “wire-based-force-feedback-module” which it says will give the user a sense of touch.
A concept image shows a lead connecting the user’s hand and the headset base, which may allow for a basic level of resistance when encountering digital objects.
Two fans integrated into the headset provide greater immersion via wind effects and also comfortability when set on low.
Another weighty inclusion to the headset: a vibration feedback system which syncs with audio to enhance things like enemy footsteps, gunshots, and environmental sounds.
The most expensive version of the hardware coming to a Kickstarter next month will include a custom varifocal optical stack, which allows the headset to more naturally replicate vergence and accommodation—something Meta (formerly Facebook) has been working on over the years too in various prototypes.
We won’t have to wait too long to see it in action hopefully. HalfDive is being pitched on Kickstarter starting December 6th, and is slated to offer the headset in three flavors: a basic model without varifocal lenses (~$700), some sort of bundled package (~$1100), and its varifocal lens version (~$3,900). You can check out the full specs below:
- Degrees of Freedom: 4.5dof (Virtual 6dof)
- Optical system: Original optical system using 10 lenses. Varifocal feature supported.
- Field of view: 134 degrees
- Resolution: 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye (3200×1440 pixels combined)
- Refresh rate: >=90hz
- Dial styled IPD adjustment: 58-82mm
- Audio: Immersive sound system using 4 speakers
- Controller: Two hand/foot controllers
- Tracking: Lighthouse supported / Avatar movement emulation system using foot controller
- Camera: Keyboard overlay system
- Interface: DisplayPort 1.2 / USB3.0 / 3.5mm audio jack / 12V power source / I2C (module connection)
- Platform: All SteamVR application supported
- SDK: Unity (features dedicated to VRChat) / Unreal Engine