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posted by martyb on Monday May 30 2016, @04:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-CAN-take-it-with-you dept.

Virtual reality just became even more "convenient" with this "backpack PC" prototype:

"We're learning a lot about how customers use and perceive VR," says Nash. "There are two consistent pieces of feedback we've gotten. The first is that the demo is incredibly cool, and the second is that the cord is incredibly annoying. But despite all of the demos, nobody has tripped over the cord. We wondered why this was and basically people are aware of the cord the whole time so they don't trip over it. In some sense it's kind of limiting the overall VR experience. It feels a little less real."

The company worked on a few different solutions. Wireless transfer standards couldn't accommodate the throughput without a notable latency and simply shoving a compatible laptop into a backpack wasn't an ideal solution. HP eventually hit upon the Omen X concept, a wearable PC.

It's a similar solution to the one recently shown off by MSI, though HP insists that the timing had less to do with that announcement than its own desire to offer up a working prototype before the unveil. But rather than waiting until the company has a shippable product before announcing, HP opted to show off a prototype in hopes of enlisting developers to help shape the creation of the device.

[...] The current prototype weighs in at less than 10 pounds and features a battery that offers an hour of life per charge. And while HP believes this will be enough to offer a reasonable immersive VR experience, the company has also added a belt with hot swappable batteries, letting users switch them in without losing their place in the game and other important data. The system also features two high-output batteries, assuring that the CPU and GPU aren't throttled — despite the fact that the backpack is intended to operate on battery power alone.

MSI has their own similar "backpack PC" concept. Road to VR helpfully notes (emphasis mine):

HP and MSI are working on concept 'PC on your back' projects (often known as backtops)

Original Submission

Related Stories

Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware? 4 comments

Magic Leap has announced an augmented reality/mixed reality display. The price is unknown, but Magic Leap says it will ship in 2018:

After more than three years, Magic Leap has unveiled what it describes as a "creator edition" of its augmented reality system. The Magic Leap One consists of a pair of oversized cyberpunk-y goggles, a puck-shaped external computer called a Lightpack, and a handheld controller. It's supposed to accept "multiple input modes including voice, gesture, head pose and eye tracking," and maps persistent objects onto the environment — "place a virtual TV on the wall over your fireplace and when you return later, the TV will be right where you left it," the site promises. An SDK is supposedly coming in early 2018, and the hardware is supposed to ship at some point next year.

Magic Leap invited Rolling Stone to try out some demos, which include virtual characters that can react to eye contact, a floating virtual comic book, and a virtual live performance using volumetric camera capture. The piece seems to refute rumors that Magic Leap was having difficulty shrinking its technology to goggle size while keeping performance up, saying that "there was no stuttering or slowdowns, even when I walked around the performance, up close and far away."

The "puck-sized" tethered computer is an interesting compromise. It doesn't look like it would hinder mobility that much (you could compare it to a Walkman plus headphones), and it's much smaller than "VR backpack" concepts. However, it could be a good sign that you should not be an early adopter of Magic Leap One (which is actually the ninth generation of their hardware internally, according to Rolling Stone).

Some still call it vaporware. There is no video footage of the device being worn, and images have been retouched to "edit out some sensitive IP".

Will it take privacy seriously?

Again, not to be confused with Leap Motion.

Also at BBC, Tom's Hardware, Road to VR, Engadget, BGR, 9to5Google.

Previously: Developers Race to Develop VR Headsets that Won't Make Users Nauseous
Magic Leap Bashed for Being Vaporware

Original Submission

Facebook Announces a New Standalone VR Headset: Oculus Quest; HTC Releases Vive Wireless Adapter 8 comments

Oculus Quest, a fully wireless VR headset, shipping spring 2019 for $399

Facebook used its latest virtual reality conference, the fifth annual Oculus Connect, to finally confirm retail plans for its most ambitious standalone VR product yet: the Oculus Quest. Originally known by its prototype name, Oculus Santa Cruz, the Quest will ship in spring 2019 for $399.

In terms of the sales pitch, this is the Oculus holy grail: a wireless, hand-tracked, "six degrees of freedom" VR system with apparently legitimate 3D power and no required PC or phone.

The headset will include two bundled handheld controllers, and more than 50 games will be available at launch. The headset has a 1600×1440 per eye resolution (3200×1440 total resolution), compared to 1280×1440 per eye for Oculus Go or 1440×1600 per eye for HTC's Vive Pro, and has 64 GB of internal storage.

Vive's wireless adapter gives the best VR experience lots of money can buy:

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30 2016, @04:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30 2016, @04:37AM (#352491)

    OK, I can believe that wireless standards (assume Wi-Fi or ??) don't work for this data rate and latency requirement. Wouldn't it be straightforward to figure out something that was fast enough -- for example, broadcast/receive the bit stream that is going down the wires to the screen(s)? Doesn't even have to be radio, could be IR.

    VR isn't going to make it, if it depends on custom form factor "wearable" computers.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday May 30 2016, @05:00AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday May 30 2016, @05:00AM (#352497)

      The computers will get smaller, cheaper, and faster as always until they're built into the glasses.

      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday May 30 2016, @06:00AM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Monday May 30 2016, @06:00AM (#352511) Journal

        Cardboard/GearVR already is this. No tether, high resolutions available (1440p phones). Refresh rate will likely increase to 90 Hz for some high-end models. Processing/graphics power is much lower but it will increase massively, at least for the next few years remaining of easy CMOS scaling.

        Having the two VR segments will ensure that a premium/gamer crowd pushes the technology forward while a more casual and accessible mass market keeps developers interested in adding support for VR.

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    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by esperto123 on Monday May 30 2016, @11:41AM

      by esperto123 (4303) on Monday May 30 2016, @11:41AM (#352595)

      I think 60GHz would be ideal for this (IR simply doesn't have the bandwidth), it has a very high potential throughput, low noise interference from other sources like bluetooth, cordless phones, microwave oven, etc., has a very short range (only works inside a room), and someone could design a standard that would almost transparently convert HDMI or DP to wireless 60GHz and back with low latency.

      Probably the only potential big problem is line of sight, that would could mean more than one antenna station.
      Oh, and of course the price, which would be huge in the beginning.

      Another alternative would take advantage of the lasers already in use to locate the headset and modulate them to transmit the images.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by archfeld on Monday May 30 2016, @05:23AM

    by archfeld (4650) <> on Monday May 30 2016, @05:23AM (#352503) Journal

    Aside of the VR usage I'd like a PC that small with a full powered graphics solution for general usage. I love LAN parties, yes I'm that old, I still enjoy a victory dance in front of my opponent rather than online, and its hard to share a shot and a vape over the internet, not to mention you meet some very interesting ladies at LAN parties.

    For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
  • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Monday May 30 2016, @08:47AM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Monday May 30 2016, @08:47AM (#352563)

    This will work great with VR games like Ghostbusters!
    IT could also be useful for games similar to Skyrim and the action of reaching over your shoulder could access the inventory screen.

  • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday May 30 2016, @09:19AM

    by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday May 30 2016, @09:19AM (#352575)

    I think all that is needed now is an omni-directional treadmill like the US military has been experimenting with.

    This may be useful for non-vr applications too: if you need mobile computing, but your cell-phone is not capable enough. Not sure how hard it would be to weather proof the thing while maintaining adequate cooling though.

    • (Score: 2) by hamsterdan on Tuesday May 31 2016, @04:07AM

      by hamsterdan (2829) on Tuesday May 31 2016, @04:07AM (#352922)

      Wouldn't something like a Toughbook do the job? those things are almost undestructible...

      • (Score: 2) by hamsterdan on Tuesday May 31 2016, @04:09AM

        by hamsterdan (2829) on Tuesday May 31 2016, @04:09AM (#352924)

        indestructible, and never mind, should've read TFA before posting...

  • (Score: 2) by Nollij on Monday May 30 2016, @12:08PM

    by Nollij (4559) on Monday May 30 2016, @12:08PM (#352599)

    How is this not a laptop in a backpack? TFA has only a single photo of someone actually wearing it. It looks exactly like a small backpack, the kind that would be perfect to hold a laptop.
    Or are they calling it a new form factor because they're attaching straps directly to the case?

    • (Score: 1) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday May 30 2016, @03:57PM

      by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday May 30 2016, @03:57PM (#352659)

      Laptops tend to have only 2 hr battery life. They also have vents on the bottom you should be careful not to cover, and a suspend switch you would need to disable.

      Though you could presumably toss a larger battery in a back-pack and charge the laptop with an inverter. Such a set-up would even be hot-swappable.

      • (Score: 1) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday May 30 2016, @04:00PM

        by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday May 30 2016, @04:00PM (#352662)

        Darn it, TFS says the charge only lasts 1 hour. For some reason I was thinking the batteries are supposed to last like 5 hours.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday June 02 2016, @09:44PM

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday June 02 2016, @09:44PM (#354235) Journal

          I believe the article said something about putting extra batteries on a belt. Yup, it's in the summary as well. So there is a way to boost the battery life beyond the current 1 hour limit.

          Considering there are two competing designs here, if this becomes a thing then you could see more battery weight being added. Let's say that the device has a 2 hour charge and some extra battery weight. In fact, I bet you could make a graph of weight vs. battery life, and then try to find an optimal point where the physical exertion of carrying extra weight while moving around balances the physical exertion of playing with yourself in VR fantasyland for X hours. The amount of time spent in VR is likely to be kind of low for most people except NEETs/weirdos. Let me see if I can find a relevant portion from one of the recent reviews...

          Here it is: []

          Over the past several years, we're sure thousands of developers and prospective customers have tried various incarnations of the Rift for minutes at a time. Far fewer have used the HMD for hours. With that in mind, I set out to play with the Rift for as long as I could in one sitting. On my first attempt, I put in more than two hours of continuous game play.

          Throughout that time, I consciously tried to make note of any discomfort I experienced. After two hours of Gunjack, neither my eyes nor my stomach told me to take a break. Rather, my rear end was sore from sitting on a not-so-comfortable chair, my fingers hurt from the Xbox One controller's trigger clicks and my neck ached from looking back and forth. I did not feel like I was going to get nauseous from motion sickness, and I did not notice any irregular eyestrain.

          [...] My second attempt with the headset netted 2.5 hours of continuous use. I watched the Henry and Lost clips, played through a tournament in Radial G, beat the first two level of Defense Grid 2 and played through the tutorial missions of Esper 2. Each time I switched experiences, I did so through the Oculus Home VR environment. Ultimately, it wasn't the Rift that stopped me from continuing, but rather my lack of gaming stamina. I don't often play long sessions of any game. An hour here, 20 minutes there; that's the amount of gaming I generally do in one sitting. My mind, not my eyes, needed a rest. Gamers that are used to putting in long hours likely won’t have trouble doing so in the Rift.

          Not exactly the slam dunk I remembered, but this is for a headset that most people will be sitting down with while using (far fewer users will have a Virtuix Omni "VR treadmill"). Running (not walking) around with a 15 lbs backpack on is going to get sweaty and tiring fast, although if you're getting ready for boot camp it's not so bad.

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  • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Monday May 30 2016, @12:35PM

    by bitstream (6144) on Monday May 30 2016, @12:35PM (#352605) Journal

    Compatibility for software and buses?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30 2016, @06:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30 2016, @06:59PM (#352718)

    of The Matrix?