The HP Reverb G2 VR headset is arriving at a time when the worlds of work and play are increasingly blending and merging. Joanna Popper of HP explains why the new headset will create the best possible immersive experience for every user
➨ Announced earlier this year and expected in the autumn, the Reverb follow up is designed to create the best possible immersive experience for every user, after the previous generation had a big focus on commercial customers.
➨ Upgrades include improved lenses, manual IP adjust and easy access to Steam games
➨ Pre-orders are open in several countries, including the US, UK and Germany. The headset is expected to retail for $599
It feels like there is a VR headset for every use case. High-end devices such as Varjo’s VR-2 and VR-2 Pro, and XTAL by VRgineers, are designed for particular activities, such as industrial design and near-real training and simulation. But they come at a high cost and suit a certain kind of user.
More cost-effective but impressively well endowed PC VR options include the widely available and used HTC Vive and Oculus ranges, which are capable of many enterprise and consumer feats. Then there are the stanalones, among which Oculus Quest is the current standout, which cost the same as a decent smartphone and are making VR accessible like never before.
Untethered headsets are developing a significant enterprise following, with even 3DOF options such as two new G2 4K headsets from Pico Interactive proving attractive.
Which VR headset is best for you as an enterprise customer depends on your use case and the capabilities that demands. Need to road-test a new virtual layout for the inside of your car? Try Varjo. Designing and collaborating with colleagues all over the world? HTC Vive may have some options for you. Teaching a classroom of students who are all going to be sat down? Pico is your next step. And so it goes; choices you have, excuses you do not.
The HP Reverb G2 VR headset, however, aims to be something else entirely.
Announced earlier this year and expected in the autumn, the Reverb follow up is designed to create the best possible immersive experience for every user, after the previous generation had a big focus on commercial customers.
Joanna Popper, global head of VR for location-based entertainment and GTM strategy at HP, told VRWorldTech that customers “were excited about the resolution, ease-of-use with inside out tracking, and comfort of the HP Reverb G1”.
She continued: “Based on customer feedback, we identified the importance of visual immersion through improved lenses. Manual IP adjust was really important in achieving this, as well as engaging 3D audio and offering enhanced comfort through the new ergonomic cable and design. An improved tracking and controller experience also makes immersion easier to achieve, as well as easy access to Steam games.”
“We listened to our customers and we designed the HP Reverb G2 to meet all of these needs.”
HP Reverb G2: key features
➨ A 2K by 2K per eye visual experience, with users being able to see text and textures more clearly, along with a 114-degree field of view
➨ New speakers that sit 10mm off the ear, boosted by support for MSFT spatial audio and an HP Labs new spatial audio format that is anchored in artificial intelligence, new signal processing and psychoacoustics
➨ Controllers that come with an optimised button layout, application and game compatibility, and the ability to be pre-paired via Bluetooth, as well as 2X the controller tracking volume, maintaining 6DoF and excluding the need for external sensors or light bars
➨ A face mask that can be flipped 90 degrees for ease of use
➨ Windows Mixed Reality support and SteamVR compatibility
With these attributes, HP believes that the new VR headset can be a device that serves workers and gamers equally well.
Popper said: “We found that many of the attributes that gamers want align with our business goals. For example, we always strive to improve on comfort, ergonomics, audio, display, render target, tracking and controllers. We want to maximise the virtual reality experience across enterprise, gamers and education.”
Crucially for HP, there isn’t one particular enterprise use case for Reverb G2, but many that require similar capabilities.
As Popper explained: “We are seeing strong interest from enterprise customers who recognise the power of virtual reality to learn, collaborate, create and connect.”
“At a time when 25-30% of workers expect to work from home into 2021, remote collaboration becomes more important than ever to stay connected, productive, and creative. We’re seeing especially strong interest in using virtual reality for training and product development, particularly in the architecture, engineering, construction and healthcare industries. With training needs spanning across most industries, it’s increasingly vital to ensure we’re showcasing the potential of VR technology.”
“Strong partners like Valve and Microsoft help in this regard, and allow us to continually drive the industry forward.”
She added: “With the uptick in remote working, we try to focus on our customers’ digital work life and the way they organise their lives around work and play. As these two worlds increasingly blend and merge, it becomes more important than ever to have access to technology like virtual reality headsets, content and software that will collectively improve multiple aspects of people’s lives.”
HP Reverb G2’s Windows Mixed Reality support and SteamVR compatibility could prove particularly powerful in meeting the needs of workers and gamers.
Popper said: “We have worked with Microsoft on all three of our headsets and have a strong partnership. This close collaboration benefits us all, not just on product, but on distribution, go-to-market and access to best-in-class content.”
Indeed, the Microsoft partnership has already yielded something of a coup. Its Flight Simulator will support VR and is expected to launch at the same time as HP Reverb G2. Anticipation for the simulator is growing on social media and it could prove a big attraction for potential gamers interested in a new headset.
Microsoft Flight Simulator VR SUPPORT HP REVERB G2!! https://t.co/VRbirbpDwg via #VRFlightSimGuy @youtube Preorder HP Reverb G2 at this link https://t.co/55AxMKEeT2#VR #FlightSimulator2020 #VirtualReality @Microsoft #HPReverbG2 @HP pic.twitter.com/HCl1x4v1g2— Joanna Popper (@JoannaPopper) July 30, 2020
While no specific date for when the new headset will ship has been announced—Popper advised interested customers to “stay tuned!”—pre-orders are open in several countries, including the US, UK and Germany. The headset is expected to retail for $599, putting it firmly in the Oculus Quest price bracket. Coincidence?
Main image: From design to gaming, HP Reverb G2 promises to meet many use cases