Chinese virtual reality headset maker AntVR told VentureBeat today that it will debut Mix, its first augmented reality headset, through a Kickstarter campaign in May. The company will start pricing at $500, and pitch Mix as a superior yet less expensive alternative to Microsoft’s $3,000 HoloLens.
Unlike virtual reality headsets, augmented reality headsets overlap translucent screens upon the real world, enabling you to see a combined view of actual and digital objects, at least partially synchronized. Whereas HoloLens only offers an extremely narrow 35-degree field of view for its augmented screen — and plans a second-generation version with a wider 70-degree display — the Mix headset promises a 96-degree FoV, amongst the widest in any consumer AR headset.
The video above provides a sense of how the technology looks through one of the two lenses. Ghostly but still bright images appear before your eyes, synchronizing real and virtual objects as real-world environments are shown. AntVR shows the wearer wielding a motion controller as a shield to block projectiles, tracking hand motions to manipulate virtual objects, and watching everything from virtual people and UIs to 3D models of skeletons and solar systems.
As filmed through an iPhone camera, the demo looks similar to what one might see on the screen of an iPhone or iPad running Apple’s ARKit, albeit with softer, blurrier holographic images against real-world surroundings. The benefits here are that the Mix experience is stereoscopic, and viewed directly through glasses, so there’s no need to hold a device up to your face to see AR content.
To that end, each eye gets a 1200 by 1200 display with a 90Hz refresh rate, while the inside-out head tracking offers six degrees of freedom. AntVR’s headset is noticeably smaller than HoloLens, promises full compatibility with SteamVR, and two USB ports for connection of extension modules.
AntVR told VentureBeat that it will run the Mix project on Kickstarter from May through June, and interested buyers can sign up now to be notified when the campaign begins. Though standard Kickstarter caveats apply, the company says that the headset “will be shipped by the end of 2018.”