WSI and design agency Veryday, helped U.K. company GameFace Labs create this first-of-its-kind product – a wireless VR gaming headset with a built-in computer from NVIDIA®. With its embedded capability, the headset is a great deal more powerful than its mobile competitors. Previously, most virtual reality experiences required the user to sit with a headset strapped to a power outlet and a computer. Since the GameFace headset has eliminated the need to be tethered to an external computer, it’s portable and more powerful than other smartphone-based alternatives.
“In my opinion, Virtual Reality got its break in 2012, but the technology used in headsets at the time was focused on tethered PC gaming. We were working closely with NVIDIA® and were aware of how rapidly mobile GPU technology was progressing. We created our HMC prototype to reflect what we believe to be the future of all VR headsets – a locally powered, untethered virtual reality reality experience that is comfortable and completely mobile.
I had been working with NVIDIA® on stereoscopic 3D PC gaming and made contact with WSI a couple of years after when it was time to scale up production. WSI’s engineering and design talent made them an obvious choice as design partners, and their global network of manufacturers ensures expertise from conception to mass production. They have the capacity to think and work fast and their ability to solve new engineering problems (including a small, almost noiseless fan in the headset to disperse built-up internal heat) is a constant breath of fresh air. When we needed a new way of securing the headset, they even thought of how the head strap could fit and function for different users.
WSI has amazing developers who keep their promises and support us in everything we do. They can take an idea from the drawing board and put it into production faster than any other company that I’ve worked with, and their track record in wireless consumer products is truly astonishing. That they were able to incorporate NVIDIA®’s Tegra K1 into GameFace as well as they did is one of the main reasons why WSI are now our number 1 partner in the north. It is because of WSI that I’m confident we’ll have GameFace in production by the first or second quarter of 2017.”
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.
Tegra K1 is built on the same NVIDIA Kepler™ architecture that drives the world’s most extreme gaming PCs and the fastest supercomputer in the United States. This is the first-ever console-class mobile technology, giving you full support for PC-class gaming technologies like DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.4, and Tessellation—all in the palm of your hands. Plus, it’s the first mobile processor to run Unreal Engine 4, Epic’s latest game engine for powering next-gen games.
TEGRA K1—THE WORLD’S MOST ADVANCED MOBILE PROCESSOR
The innovative new Tegra K1 processor features the same high-performance, power-efficient NVIDIA Kepler™-based GPU that drives the world’s most powerful supercomputers and PC gaming systems. This means you can now count on even more unbelievable graphics performance, powerful computing, and truly unique features in every Tegra K1-powered mobile device.
NVIDIA Kepler™ GPU with 192 NVIDIA CUDA® cores – Enjoy an incredible array of mobile innovations in gaming, photography, media, and web with NVIDIA Kepler, the first GPU architecture to span from supercomputers to PCs to mobile devices. It’s an unprecedented combination of breathtaking visual performance and breakthrough energy efficiency.
NVIDIA 4-Plus-1™ quad-core ARM® Cortex™-A15 CPU – Tegra K1 harnesses ARM’s advanced CPU, Cortex A15, plus a third-generation battery-saver core, to deliver record levels of performance and battery life. This Variable SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) architecture from NVIDIA enables four performance cores to be used for max burst when needed, with each core independently and automatically enabled and disabled based on workload.
WSI - an NVIDIA preferred partner
TechCrunch sat down with Edward Mason, Founder and CEO of VR Headset startup GameFace Labs at CES 2016.
To get a product from concept to reality is a complex and arduous process. WSI can assist you by offering customized product design services that best fit your business requirements. Our experience and expertise in this industry offer you a number of advantages.Contact us
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