A couple of months back, Somnium Space, the social virtual reality (VR) metaverse built upon blockchain and cryptosystems made a huge raft of announcements which included the first mention of its own standalone VR headset. Today, as part of its first-ever Somnium Space Connect event, the company dropped further details including the specifications and what it’ll look like.
Being built in collaboration with VRgineers – the makers of the enterprise-grade XTAL headset – the device aims to corner a very specific section of the market, one where users aren’t held to a particular store or platform restrictions. A VR headset that’s open-source and modular, which can be programmed and tailored to your own particular needs if necessary.
“We have seen a trend where many companies, big companies, who were producing VR headsets started to close their ecosystems a kind of creating these silos of closed ecosystems, and we as the metaverse company, we cannot afford to risk that we will be dependant on some or other ecosystems,” Artur Sychov, CEO of Somnium Space explained during the event. “Some companies are doing a great job, some headsets are amazing, but we saw some signals from different various companies either towards blockchain or towards VR apps and other things that we didn’t like. It rang a huge alarm in my head.”
In development since the beginning of 2021, Sychov notes that the ‘Somnium VR Headset’ is still very much a work-in-progress yet the fundamentals do already seem in place. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor – which can be found in other standalone devices like the Meta Quest 2 – it’ll have two 3.2 inch LCD panels with a 2880 x 2880 resolution, 90Hz refresh rate (possibly up to 120Hz), 115-degree field of view, custom VRgineers lenses similar to XTAL and full inside out tracking.
You’ll be able to connect it to a PC for lossless VR gaming or stream content to the device thanks to in-built WiFi 6e. There’s also the welcome addition of a MicroSD card slot for expandable storage although there was no mention of any other storage. As mentioned, what might interest a lot of VR users is the modular structure of the headset. “We really believe in modularity,” says Sychov. “We want to have a headset which will last some time with you, which you can take and do things with, which truly can be your companion and your development partner or your gaming partner.”
For example, the front panel will be removable to swap out for other panels, the side and bottom have smaller panels that can be removed to add items to like 3D printed accessories – Somnium will release all the details required to print your own compatible parts. Making for a really customisable VR headset that could very well see some unusual creations from the community.
Somnium Space hasn’t said what price it’ll be aiming for but it won’t be running any super early pre-orders or funding campaigns. Currently, the goal is to release the first batch of headsets in Q4 2022 with more details to be released in the coming months. When that occurs VRFocus will keep you updated.