The growing virtual reality platform wars got a little more complex this morning. That's because graphics chip maker AMD has thrown in with Toronto-based startup Sulon Technologies to unveil the Sulon Q headset, which aims to provide a PC-based, fully tracked virtual reality experience without the need to tether yourself to a computer tower.
According to the announcement, that "wear and play" untethered design makes the Sulon Q quite different from competition like the Oculus Rift or SteamVR-powered HTC Vive, which both need a relatively high-end PC to actually generate the images on the headset. With the Sulon Q, the Windows 10 PC hardware is built into the unit, including an expected four-core AMD FX-8800P processor with a Radeon R7 graphics card.
В нем используется 4-ядерный процессор AMD FX-8800P и графика серии Radeon R7. Вместе с SSD на 256 Гбайт, 8 Гбайт оперативной памяти он обеспечивает вывод картинки разрешением 2560х1440 пикселей на OLED-дисплей с полем зрения 110 градусов.
Add in a built-in 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a 2560×1440 OLED display with a 110° field of view, and it's a bit like wearing a lower-end (but still apparently VR-capable) PC on your head. AMD isn't specifically discussing the mass of the "lightweight" headset, but it seems likely to be much heavier than tethered headsets where the heavy processing is done externally (or even mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, which are powered by much-more-compact smartphones)
The Sulon Q is also trying to set itself apart with a "Spatial Processing Unit" that AMD says "combines real-time machine vision technologies and [a] mixed reality spatial computer" to provide "real-time environment mapping and tracking from the inside outward, dynamic virtualization for VR/AR fusion, and gesture recognition."
In English, that seems to mean that the two cameras on the front of the headset can generate a 3D map of the surrounding space (useful for potential augmented reality experiences). It also means the headset can track the user's head position as they lean in place or walk around the room, all without the need for external cameras or SteamVR's laser-based Lighthouse tracking beacons. And the promise "gesture recognition" can let players use their hands without the need to hold a controller or wear a glove.
We've seen similar untethered VR tracking solutions tried on other prototype headsets at trade shows, and the inside-out tracking and hand detection has never quite seemed precise or fast enough for a truly rock-solid virtual experience. We'll reserve judgment on the Q until we try it, of course. AMD and Sulon have touted a "late spring" launch (price point has not been disclosed) for the device, so you'll be able to give it spin once it's out. Whatever the quality, it's certainly an ambitious move into the new space from a graphics card maker that's trying to shake things up to stay relevant against Nvidia's juggernaut.