Ultra Thin USB 3.1 cable for the Oculus CV1 + 21.6Gbps Displayport?

Spectra7 VR oculus rift USB 3.1

I wrote last year about the announcement of Oculus chip manufacturer Spectra7s new ultra thin HDMI connector chip. With head mounted displays being wired for the foreseeable future it’s pretty important that any consumer device has a thin flexible cable to connect to the PC. The Oculus Rift DK2 of course has a USB2 connector but this is now rather outdated.

So, enter Spectra7 with their TC7050 USB 3.1 chip with 5Gbps of bandwidth. This is easily enough to handle high resolution ‘inside out’ video streams that I see coming, if not in the first consumer version, but soon afterwards. Being able to see the outside world clearly and quickly is also quite important, so we can probably expect dual cameras to appear in the front of most HMDs as a standard feature. Not only would these cameras allow the user to quickly see the outside world for spatial positioning but they can also be used for processing the users real life environment. Want to see where your coffee cup is in VR so you can take a drink while flying a spaceship? This would require a fast transfer of data to the PC to figure out where you are and where your cup is.

The new TC7050 chip gives a 90% reduction in the thickness of the copper cable, the same as the HDMI chip. This means an ultra thin cable combining HDMI and USB 3.1 is possible for the Oculus CV1, or certainly in CV2. Oculus has already stated that the technology they acquired with their acquisition of Nimble would not necessarily make it into their first consumer version, but with the VR gauntlet now thrown down by HTC and Valve, with a good input solution and, perhaps most importantly, a release date, they might be tempted to adjust their schedule.

Spectra7 VR oculus rift USB 3.1

Product Brief PDF link : here

 


Also mentioned in the press release (but not yet announced on their site) are two new display chips.

“Spectra7’s TC7108 chip delivers two channels of DisplayPort HBR2 at 5.4Gbps each (10.8Gbps in total), while the TC7216 delivers four channels (21.6Gbps in total). The TC7050 delivers USB 3.1 Gen 1 data at 5.0Gbps. The TC7108 and TC7050 can be used together to build bidirectional links for ultra-thin high definition external displays and dynamic interfaces for wearable technology.”

‘wearable technology’ hints at VR, but until they release more information than these few lines we won’t know if this is of interest to the VR community…

 

 

A spot of crowdfunding anyone?

As some of you know we applied to HAXLR8R in November, had several interviews in December and the first 2015 program started last week in Shenzhen, China. They had over 400 applications and had to whittle this number down to just 15 hardware devices. A lot of competition!

We got some great feedback, they loved the idea, they liked the team and they liked the traction they saw we were getting online. We’re now on over 4400 Twitter followers, which is pretty great for a six month old account, about a dozen people are signing up on our website each day and we haven’t really started any promotions yet. We’re hoping that lot of you guys are potential customers and not just hoping to win a free sim.

Now we know that not only is VR going to be huge in 2015 and the first affordable motion simulator that hits the market will be huge. Perhaps you know this too.

Sadly the guys at HAX were not quite as convinced, but they had a lot of applications and it seems we just missed out. They also had several re-applications that they rejected last summer, which were offered a place this time around, and the message we heard was to “keep working on the project” since they want to see it move forward. We’re still in touch with them.

Getting into the program would have been a huge shortcut and we’ve spent the holidays reassessing what we need to keep going. Some people have urged us to start an Indiegogo campaign and fund the project that way, but we think that would be a little premature.

Instead we’re thinking of heading to China anyway to prototype, recruit some more staff and begin looking at partnering factories. We may reapply to HAXLR8R for the summer program but this is yet to be decided, they give not only $100,000 for a 9% slice of equity, but provide mentoring and support. We’d like think that we can perhaps go it alone but we’re humble enough to know when a helping hand is a good thing.

Instead we’ve decided to try a small campaign with Seedrs, an equity crowdfunding site in the UK. We say ‘try’ because they vet every application, so it’s by no means guaranteed but we think we shouldn’t have a problem. This gives our friends, family and a few interested angel investors a route to show interest in the project, while keeping everything legal and easy to manage.

So we’re planning on trying to raise a small, quick round to take us forward to China and this also lets us show our neighbours at HAXLR8R something amazing if we decide to reapply. Nothing beats a pitch for a hardware device like being able to try it in person.

If our campaign is approved then there will a lot more information about the market and our strategy, plus you can ask private and public questions. You’ll also see a video of the team and be able to check our facebook/linkedin pages etc.

But like anything to do with investing money I urge everyone to do some proper research, and if you don’t understand something, don’t invest. Seedrs is a very transparent platform, and we picked them because they’re more concerned with protecting investors than entrepreneurs. Right now they’re limited to Europe but they’re also about to accept funding from the U.S., hopefully in time for our campaign.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in then head over to Seedrs to see what they’re about. If you sign up with our referral code : G5QBJMC8 you’ll also save 50% on any fees, instead of them going to us. It also lets them know that we have people interested in our project which might push our approval through a little quicker. We’ll be letting you know when the campaign is ready.

Even though you can put in as little at £10 be aware it might be years before you see a return on your money, and while we don’t anticipate any billion dollar acquisitions…. you never know 🙂 If you’re considering putting in a little more than that we’d like to hear from you, so we could plan a little better and hopefully keep the momentum going. Feel free to email us with any questions.

We think we’ve got a great project and we hope you do to. We’re still aiming to launch the Kickstarter this year and your name is still in the hat! Please remember to spread the word and feel free to forward our updates to anyone you think might be interested!

Bike simulator concept

It’s missing the ‘training wheel’ at the back with would provide resistance when you pedal but it’s seems fairly easy to add a small stand to the sphere so you can mount an ordinary bike for VR riding…

An adapter for the brakes would also be needed but the sphere would be able to provide resistance, feedback and rotation information just by turning the handles bars….

concept5-90

Finding more backers

Our email list is getting pretty healthy and we’re getting more twitter followers everyday, but will that translate into sales and backers? It’s hard to say until you actually require people to put their hands in their pockets. So, more is more, but where can we find these new people who will be interested?

I’ve played with Facebook ads before for a previous failed start up so I have some experience with it. My initial disgust with paying for something I should be getting for ‘free’ wore off before when I realised that even though I have several hundred friends on facebook not all of them are really interesting in my projects. They might think they’re cool, but not enough to actually want to pay for them.

Instead we can use the demographics built into facebook to reach out to our ‘perfect potential customers’. So, men, living in the developed world, 18-35, single and interested in VR and simulation games. Putting that into the facebook ad generator gives me about 2m people who might want to give me their email for the raffle. I supposed I could include women as well but if my google analytics figures are reasonably accurate the feelThree is a 97.7% male interest. The prices for 1000 impressions isn’t to outrageous, about £0.24-£1.30, or they let you just pay for ‘clicks’. One of the best things though is the ability to use different pictures and see which is the most effective, plus trying the same advert with some slight variations and seeing which is more effective.

All you need is cash! :p

One of the more important things I can do to promote the project right now though is to create a decent 2 minute video explaining how it works and why it’s so amazing, but that will have to wait until I reinstall my broken Windows 7 installation. Then I’ll have to finally figure out how to properly animate the omnichain since that’s what people will want to see rendered…

I also added some tweet and like buttons to each post, at the top and bottom, just making it a little easier for people to share any posts they like and hopefully spread the word a little easier. I also got rid of the ‘DISCUS’ comment system, since I added it I’ve only had a few comments since you have to sign up to write anything, it looks like people couldn’t be bothered. I reimplemented the old system and added a ‘math-captcha’ so you have to solve an easy math problem to post, that should be enough to ward off the bot-spam my site is now attracting….

I also changed the ‘about’ line on out twitter account to read ‘Oculus Rift’ rather than #oculusrift which has moved us up to position 21 (from about 150) when you search for ‘oculus rift’ in twitter. I’m not 100% sure how they organise the list but I think it’s a combination of ‘oculus rift’ in your name, how many followers you have and where ‘oculus rift’ appears in your desciption, since a few people are higher than us and have less followers… It now reads ‘Oculus Rift Motion Simulator! ‘ and will take Twitter about a week to rejiggle the names. I doubt it will give us a million extra followers but Oculus get quite a lot of followers everyday, about 100, so if they search for them and click follow on us too just below them it’s a simple way to pick up potential customers.

Still no word from the HAXLR8R organisers, although they moved the deadline to the end of the month. My email to our mailing list asking for support was moderately successful, 14 people tweeted their support to @haxlr8r, nothing amazing but it shows we’re trying. 🙂

2560 x 1440 (WQHD) @ 80fps + hand input for Oculus Rift CV1?

spectra7

Hot on the announcement of new gesture recognition chips on the 8th of November Spectra7 released a press announcement for what looks likely to be the replacement for the VR7100 chip that significantly reduces the thickness of the DK2 HDMI cable, the VR7200.

From the press release :

“With Spectra7’s new VR7200 chip which features the Company’s patented high-speed, active signal processing and power delivery technology, dual screen VR HMDs with a single super-thin cable and ultra-compact connector are now possible. Next generation VR interconnects built with Spectra7’s VR7200 are capable of dual 2560 x 1440 Wide Quad High Definition (WQHD) display resolution with 4:4:4 Chromaat up to 80 FPS perscreen without any image degradation as a result of Luma and/or Chroma subsampling and do not require a separate external HMD power connection”

Samples are available next month which pretty much rules out the rumour of a February release for the CV1 I read today on twitter. This falls a little short on the 90fps we were expecting but is still an improvement on the 75fps from the DK2.

We also saw an announcement for actual order amount for the new gesture chip, 500,000 of the VR7050 according to TMXMoney, along with the VR7100 replacement, which is undoubtedly the VR7200. “The order calls for delivery of over 500,000 devices including the Company’s recently announced VR7050 Gesture and Motion Backhaul Processor and the second generation of the previously announced VR7100 ultra-miniature Digital Video Link Processor chip.” This is half of the usual ‘million unit’ figures Oculus talk about for the CV1 but it’s still early days for further orders.

So are these two new chips for the Oculus consumer release and when could they arrive?

Well, the VR7100 chip was announced in October last year and began production in May 2014 for the DK2, so this is likely to mean we follow the same schedule and see assembly begin in the middle of next year….

So, CV1 confirmed for Xmas 2015 and WITH a built in hand/gesture recognition system? Who else would order half a million of these new chips?

Spectra7 also recently took out a 2-year loan of $4.75m which might be Oculus ensuring that the supply of chips isn’t in any danger of drying up while the CV1 is being built.

So what screen? A Samsung S5 panel fits the resolution and these should be widely available now…

Maybe we’ll know for sure in about 10 months 🙂

PDFs:

Gesture : http://spectra7.com/S7-VR7050-Press-Release-20141008-F4.pdf

New HDMI : http://spectra7.com/pdfs/Spectra7-VR7200-Press-Release-20141113-F.pdf

Old HDMI: http://www.spectra7.com/pdfs/products/VR7100-S-Product-Brief-Rev2.pdf

The VR7100 inside the DK2 cable (ifixit)

Solving motion sickness

I don’t suffer from motion sickness, but I recognise it’s a big enough problem that if I want VR to succeed it needs to be looked at a little closer.

I watched the Tom Forsyth Oculus Connect talk about developing VR and he said something interesting at around the 40 minute mark about ‘blink transitions’. So you get into a car, your virtual ‘eyes’ in the Rift blink and you switch positions nearly instantly but your brain ignores this transition because of the ‘blink’ effect in the HMD….

To repeat, you’re not PHYSICALLY blinking, the screen is doing it for you.

I asked Tom, and he doesn’t know if anyone has tried it, so I threw my idea into the Tuscany demo.

You can rotate as usual with Q and E with 45 degree turns but now ‘shutters’ close for 150ms, you turn and your ‘eyes’ open at the new orientation 150ms later. You can look around as normal with your head. It’s reasonably crude but demonstrates the idea.

So if Tuscany makes you sick please give this a go and give me some feedback. If you want to steal the idea or code for your own implementation please do, or if you want to add some ideas to my repo go right ahead. If you don’t suffer from nausea then this thread is probably not for you… congratulations! :p

https://github.com/traveltrousers/Blink_Comfort

Constructive criticism always welcome, and if you don’t like it… well, lets see your solution to sim sickness! :p

 

relevant videos :

http://youtu.be/addUnJpjjv4?t=40m5s