…or how we replaced “Oculus Go” with “PicoVR G2 4K”

2016 we developed RochlitzVR: a Installation at Schloss Rochlitz. More information about this project here: http://blendfx.com/project/rochlitz-vr/

Back then we used Samsung GearVR: a Samsung S6 in a plastic device with lenses. One of the best mobile VR experiences in these times. And the best: there was no “Enter VR” screen. No need for a controller. Powered by USB they run 24 hours. No additional assistance necessary, if delivered with proper hardware: Anti-theft cable, instructions, rotating chairs. Perfect for museums and public installations!

2018 the “Oculus Go” came. We loved it: cheaper, better resolution and all in all a good package. Then, after developing for it for some time, the release of some of our upcoming releases was getting closer and we realised: there is still no solution for a proper kiosk mode for the Oculus Go (!?).  That’s maybe not a problem for the average home user, but for public VR installations that’s really an issue. Almost every time when we were demoing our apps to users with little or no VR experience people had troubles with the controllers and especially the “Enter VR” screen by Oculus.
Here are some of encountering problems with the Oculus Go:

  • Controller batteries can get empty and must be replaced
  • People can’t find the correct controller button to EnterVR
  • Headset gets black after short amount of time without pressing the right button
  • People accidentally pressing the Home button again and exit our app

We wrote emails, tweets, forum entriessupported feature requests… everything multiple times. But Oculus did NOT answer properly for ONCE. They did nothing for an urgent request from developers. And we can tell you: we’re not the only company searching for a possibility to install a VR Headset in some kind of public installation where a kiosk mode would be necessary.

November 2019 we finally stopped waiting for a kiosk mode. Oculus is not a reliable company for our business usecases. And f**k off Oculus Business (anounced 2019): same devices with higher prices and an annual fee for a very simple feature. Seriously? No way. So we did a lot of research to find a mobile headset, with good performance, solid and kiosk mode ready.

And we found it: the PicoVR headsets! Yeah! First I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the specs, but after getting in touch with them and telling about my needs, they offered to send me a device for 6 weeks to test. I agreed, and some days later we got an express package with our first PicoVR headset: the G2 4K. Here’re the most important facts of the PicoVR headsets:

Negative: nothing so far

Neutral:

  • Business only: you can’t order it online with some clicks
  • Integration of the SDK not (yet?) as “native” as with Oculus, where you just need to enable VR and add Oculus to device list.
  • You should be prepared to take your time to learn the new device, the docs, possibilities and get in touch with support if necessary

Positive

  • They send me a test device within days
  • Also android based
  • Here’re the docs: http://us-dev.picovr.com/document/doc
  • Shipping ready for kiosk mode
  • The Pico G2 4K has a great display, much better than the Go
  • SDK for Unity
  • Responsive technical support
  • You can adjust all functions of the hardware buttons -> you can even disable the power button!
  • Using without controller is possible

This is how our device works now: It starts up once USB is powered. Directly after boot it launches our app. Should the app crash, the device automatically launches the app again (= home launcher). If the user presses the Power or Home Button, nothing happens. It’s impossible for the user to exit the app running in the headset. It’s a perfect kiosk mode for VR. I programmed a special button combination to enter the settings menu (android 2D Settings) which gives you access to nearly all settings possible.

Today another 3 devices arrived and are waiting to get prepared for our kiosk mode, so we can pass them on to our client. And hopefully soon the old Samsung Gear headsets in Rochlitz can be replaced with brandnew Pico G2s!