February 15, 2023 – Virtual reality (VR) technology company Bigscreen has this week unveiled ‘Bigscreen Beyond’, a compact VR device that the company claims will be the “world’s smallest VR headset”.
Weighing just 127 grams and measuring less than 1-inch at its thinnest point, Beyond comes in a form factor that is 6X lighter than competing VR devices, according to Bigscreen. The Beyond headset features ultra-high resolution OLED displays, custom pancake optics, and tethers to a PC. However, the device’s unique selling point is that each headset is custom-built to the shape of an individual customer’s face, providing increased comfort for longer duration VR experiences. One would expect though that this custom-fit design will make sharing Beyond with friends and other users more difficult.
“As passionate VR enthusiasts, we built the VR headset we wanted for ourselves,” said Darshan Shankar, Bigscreen’s Founder & CEO. “Today’s leading VR headsets have doubled in weight compared to headsets from 2016. We built Beyond because we felt VR was too heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable. We invented new technologies to increase comfort, and developed ultra-high-end components like OLED microdisplays and pancake optics to increase immersion. To deliver the best software experience for watching movies in Bigscreen, we also had to build the best hardware with Bigscreen Beyond.”
Display and optics
Beyond features two OLED displays, each with a resolution of 2560 x 2560 pixels, offering a combined 5120 x 2560 pixel resolution, which is 2-3X higher than many VR headsets currently on the market (the Quest Pro for example has a resolution of 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye). Pairing these OLED displays with custom pancake optics creates a wide field of view and a 28 pixels-per-degree (PPD) image, according to Bigscreen.
The device’s optics feature a 3-element optical design composed of glass, plastic polymers, films, and coatings that results in a smaller, lighter form factor and offers an improvement in clarity compared to single-element Fresnel lenses.
The company also stated that with Beyond, users will not experience VR’s common ‘Screen Door Effect’ problem, as the headset’s pixels are no longer visible to the eye thanks to 7.2-μm wide pixels and RGB stripe subpixels.
After ordering a Beyond, each customer will receive an email to scan themselves using Bigscreen’s iPhone application. Each Beyond is custom-made based on a user’s 3D face scan, which measures the shape of the customer’s face and the position of their eyes. An iPhone XR or newer is required for the one-time 3D face scan, and is not required to use the Beyond.
“Instead of one-size-fits-all consumer electronics, we believe VR headsets should be a custom-fit wearable device more like prescription eyewear,” said Philip Krejov, Bigscreen’s Head of Hardware.
With each customer having a headset built to their face shape and their IPD, Bigscreen believes that significant weight can be saved while also improving comfort and clarity in VR. The company added that a custom face cushion will help to provide even weight distribution, zero light leakage, and aligns the eyes and optics correctly.
Furthermore, customers that require corrective vision can purchase custom prescription lenses that magnetically fit into the Beyond device, as glasses will not fit inside its small form factor.
Customers also have a choice between the included ultra-lightweight (28 grams) Soft Strap or an upgraded Audio Strap, which improves ergonomics further by cupping the top and back of the head, enabling the Beyond to float on the face. The Audio Strap also provides Beyond with built-in high-end audio and enhanced bass from on-ear headphones.
To determine its position and orientation in 3D space, Beyond comes with built-in SteamVR tracking. However, for customers to enjoy six degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracking, at least one SteamVR Base Station will be required (although not included with the headset). Beyond supports SteamVR Tracking V1.0 and V2.0 Base Stations.
The device is SteamVR compatible, and according to Bigscreen, works with the SteamVR ecosystem of controllers and accessories, such as the Valve Index controllers and HTC Vive controllers (not included). Customers can also achieve Full-Body Tracking (FBT) using trackers such as HTC Vive Trackers or Tundra Trackers.
Beyond is available for pre-order today starting at USD $999. Pre-orders are fully refundable reservations, meaning customers can cancel their pre-order and request a full refund at any time until their device ships.
- Wave 1 deliveries will begin in Q3 2023 in the United States.
- Wave 2 deliveries will begin in Q4 2023 throughout Canada and Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and more.
- Wave 3 deliveries will begin in late 2023 to Japan, Australia, New Zealand.
- Finally, Bigscreen stated that Beyond will then be available in more countries and regions in 2024. The company noted that as its Beyond VR device is custom-built for each customer, it results in longer manufacturing and fulfillment times.
For more information on Bigscreen and its new Beyond virtual reality headset, please visit the company’s website.
Image / video credit: Bigscreen / YouTube
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.