Razer and Sensics, co-founders and organizers of Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR), unveiled the second Hacker Development Kit, the HDK 2. The $400 HDK 2 features an upgraded display (2160×1200) for a visual experience on par with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It will be available in July for $400 at the Razer online store with plans to expand sales to Newegg and physical retailers later this year.
The HDK 2 will be available to demo at Razer’s E3 booth this week with games such as RedOut, Theme Park Studio, Infinite, A-10, and The Hum: Abductions, alongside the Gloveone motion tracking gloves from Neurodigital Technologies. Upon public release, the gloves will be available as a controller option for the HDK and all OSVR supporting head-mounted displays in the open ecosystem.
“The HDK2 is the next iteration in the headset we’ve had out for a year,” Jeevan Aurol, product marketing manager of software at Razer. “This headset displays images at 90 frames per second and offers a 110-degree field of view, as well as a diffusion film screen to reduce screen effect. This screen was built for VR with custom optics and a larger eye box, making it more comfortable to wear. It pumps out clear, vibrant visuals.”
Aurol said the HDK2 was designed for both developers and consumers. The basic package includes the positional tracking hardware (infrared camera and mount) and the HMD.
“We designed it to be flexible,” Aurol said. “Developers can innovate the way they want to bring cool new products and software into the OSVR ecosystem. As a consumer, I gain unrestricted access to innovations as they roll out like brand new controllers.”
Gamers will have unrestricted access to open source platforms such as SteamVR. Aurol said any content built for Vive will work on the HDK2 and the HDK1. The platform also supports Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and Unity Technologies’ Unity 5 game engines.
Aurol said Razer will continue to sell the HDK1 for $300 for people who want to get into VR without spending as much money.
“We’re building an open source VR ecosystem with over 320 hardware and software companies,” Aurol said. “The software development kit unites everyone into a single ecosystem, which will ultimately help VR succeed.”
Aurol said consumers benefit from OSVR because they can choose from a variety of HMDs and controllers without worrying about compatibility, building their custom dream VR rig.
“It’s about giving consumers a choice and the ability to optimize what we have in VR today,” Aurol said.
Razer is also launching a $5 million Developer Fund created to bring more VR content into the ecosystem.
“Our take is the industry is very young and one of the current issues its facing is lack of content,” Aurol said. “Mainstream consumers need to adopt VR for it to succeed and we need content on all hardware. We’ll have 10 headsets in the market by next year. If other hardware vendors enter the market, and they don’t have access to content, they’ll die out quickly. If you’re introducing a new HMD or controller, you need to have content to attract mainstream interest and help the entire industry. The VR industry is only as strong as its weakest link.”
Razer is sponsoring the $5 million, but Aurol said it will constantly grow through the support of OSVR partners. The fund will support both hardware and software makers.
“If you’re hardware developer we’ll help you with marketing support, public relations, and other business initiatives,” Aurol said. “If you’re a small or large developer you can apply now. An OSVR fund member will review it—Razer is currently overseeing applications because it’s investing the initial $5 million—and look at the quality of the content, and then if it passes we’ll approve it and the developer gain funding.”
Aurol said this funding is very different from the traditional model because Razer is helping to kickstart content sales for the developer from the start.
“When they release content, we’ll buy the game keys—the number of game keys we buy depends on the negotiations,” Aurol said. “We can offer a minimum guarantee in sales. We’ll have promotional activities when we buy the game keys, passing them to press for reviews for press and bundling them with hardware promotions.”
And Razer will help developers gain exposure.
“We’ll offer marketing and promotional support to help generate more awareness of the content. For example, we’ll invite developers down to our E3 booth and allow them to sell content through the SDK and talk to press and attendees. It’s a great way to gain awareness.”