Early last year, in February, XR startup Lynx announced that they would be launching a new device, the Lynx R-1. More than a year later, the company is yet to release the headset due to delays and modifications being made. But considering the various updates and additions made to the headsets, perhaps the wait will be worth it.
The Lynx R-1, a standalone mixed reality headset capable of VR and passthrough AR, was first announced as an enterprise-targeted device, set to launch at around $1500. The company, having pivoted, now plans to launch the headset for both businesses and consumers. After several updates and additions, the headset will be launching at well below a thousand, just a few hundred dollars.
The team behind the Lynx R-1 has made several improvements to the headset. Below are the key updates and additions made.
Lens Redesign: The Lynx R-1 has a different lens design from that of its competitors. The company refers to the lens as a “fourfold catadioptric freeform prism.” This design allows the headset to be more compact than other headsets because the lenses can be placed closer to the display due to its short focal length. But the key improvement made was in increasing the lens’s eye box. The previous eye box was much smaller, necessitating the use of an eye tracker to compensate for a smaller “sweet spot.”
Improved Hand Tracking: Until recently, the company relied solely on the front cameras (either the monochrome or the RGB cameras) for hand tracking. Now that the headset no longer needs eye-tracking sensors, the company has ditched it and added an IR camera instead. The IR camera is used alongside Ultraleap’s hand tracking platform, Gemini, for a better hand tracking experience.
Support For Controllers: Because Lynx R-1 was initially designed for enterprise use, its mode of input was through hand gestures only. That has changed with the company becoming consumer-facing as well. The Lynx R-1 will now support FinchShift controllers on launch. And like most new controllers out there, it will also have 6DOF.
Third-Party SDK Support: Lynx R-1 has its own SDK but plans to support OpenXR and Unity3D by Q4 of this year. The OpenXR support will allow users to stream content from their PC through USB-C or WiFi, using Nvidia’s CloudXR platform.
App, Games, And App Store: Lynx R-1 being a mixed reality headset, can run both VR and AR apps, and even apps that switch between the two. When asked about an app store in a live stream last month, the CEO Stan Laroque says the company is considering either building one in-house or partnering with SideQuest on that. Regarding apps and games, the company is also in talks with some developers to port their titles to Lynx.
Besides all these additions, the headset remains mostly the same. You can check out the full specs sheet here.
In the coming month, the company will be launching a Kickstarter for the Lynx R-1 and plans to release the headset in February next year. The company has already contacted several media companies to review the headset, and also made some demos in preparation for the Kickstarter next month. A price for the headset will be announced in the third week of this month. For those who want to get theirs cheaper, the Kickstarter is the best way to go. Those who have previously ordered one will be reimbursed and given a promo code. The company will also be selling a special transparent edition of the headset.
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