The WSI Way – WSI’s CTO Håkan Ohlgren on the GameFace case
This is how WSI works with GameFace Labs. Håkan Ohlgren, WSI’s CTO and Chief Architect tells us.
What role did WSI play in the project with GameFace?
– We were contacted by GameFace Labs in 2014 to develop a new generation of their VR-headset. Our assignment was to create a complete headset incorporating electronics, Software and mechanics. GameFace Labs created their proprietary home screen and some very specific software, while WSI implemented an Android port for the NVIDIA® HW platform. GameFace Labs also paved our way to NVIDIA®. We based the design on their Tegra K1 which is a very capable Application Processor with superior graphics performance. We partitioned the system so that the heavier batteries are kept in a belt clip device, connected to the VR-headset through a cable. That is the only cable in the system. In order to re-use the legacy user interface of Android, we implemented a capacitive touch pad on one side of the headset. The headset includes Wi-Fi connection (802.11.a/b/g/n) to internet and Bluetooth connection to wireless input devices such as gaming controllers, mice or keyboard. The Wi-Fi connection means that Applications can be downloaded and the FW can be updated wirelessly. GameFace Labs has implemented a novelty way to speed up Application download. It is truly remarkable how fast applications are started upon a download! We implemented 2x2MIMO (antenna diversity) for the Wi-Fi transceiver in order to make fast and robust connection to the network.
How was the collaboration with NVIDIA®?
– We’re a relatively small company. Big companies like NVIDIA® normally has no or very limited capacity to manage small customers, due to resource constraints. But NVIDIA® liked GameFace Labs concept and decided to use WSI as a design house, under the agreement that we would get minimal support. We managed to do the design ourselves, with some valuable support from them, which I believe contributed to NVIDIA® wanting to make us an official partner. We showed them what we are capable of. Now they submit clients to WSI, which we are very proud of. The GameFace project was the starting point of our partnership.
How did WSI work internally on the GameFace project?
– It went very smooth. We’re a company of team players where everyone pitches in. The collaboration between the project manager, the system architect, the HW and SW designers, PCB layout, Industrial designer and the mechanical designer went truly well. We called in two external Android experts when needed. In addition to our own organization, our extensive network is one of our greatest assets.
What were the greatest challenges?
– Probably the power and heat management. Unlike other VR glasses, everything is built into the headset. The NVIDIA® Tegra K1 is extremely capable and scalable. In the GameFace Labs VR-headset a superior graphical performance is required. But this comes with higher power consumption which consequently generates more heat. We needed to implement an active cooling system in the headset, using a silent fan with a heat pipe that transports the heat out of the headset. This keeps both the electronics as well as the user cool. The latter is important as the battery and power system is capable of many hours constant use, and the overall user experience is extremely important.
In addition to the technology, what are the strengths of this project?
– We persevere together with our clients, even if the financial situation becomes instable. We want to help our clients all the way to the finish line. I think the reason for our success is that we are all team players through and through.