As more hardware products enter the virtual reality space, the push for more enterprise applications has grown with it. Companies tout VR for its uses in virtual prototyping, design, training, and even artificial intelligence—all with the aim of enticing design engineers into adopting VR into their workflow.
Yet no company has really advertised its products as putting the needs and wants of engineers before everything else.
Enter VRgineers. The Prague-based VR hardware startup is jumping into the VR headset space with a heads-mounted display (HMD) aimed specifically at enterprise users like engineers and designers.
|The VRHero 5K Plus boasts a 5K image resolution and wide field of view that VRgineers says makes it ideal for engineers looking to integrate VR into their workflow. (image source: VRgineers)|
“Our clients aren't looking for a toy, they're looking for a solution,” Marek Polcak, co-founder and CEO of VRgineers, told Design News, emphasizing the company motto, “We play no games.”
Ironically, the specs on the company's flagship headset, the VRHero 5K Plus, would turn the heads of most VR gaming enthusiasts. The helmet boasts 5K resolution (2560 x 1440 per eye), a 150- to 170-degree field of view (depending on adjustable settings), and a 70 Hz refresh rate. On the enterprise side, this more than competes with the latest offerings, such as the HTC Vive Pro, for example, which offers 2880 x 1600-pixel resolution (1440 x 1600 pixels per eye), a 110-degree field of view, and 90 Hz refresh rate.
But Polcak said the VRHero's goal isn't to entertain. It's to provide engineers with the best fidelity and image quality possible for the level of detail needed in automotive, aerospace, robotics, and even medical applications.
“It's important to understand that retail devices are focusing on entertaining you and playing with your senses,” Polcak said. “They want to send you as many impressions as possible as fast as possible and as intensely as possible. But for [enterprise] work, what you need to do is get as close to reality as possible in a quiet place. When you are observing one part of a car for half an hour, you don't need to see zombies around you or be disturbed by loud music.”
For Martin Holecko, a fellow co-founder of VRgineers, the company's strategy is a reversal of that typically employed by VR hardware companies. “Normally with VR, you're trying to bring someone into a fantasy world. But for us, the end point is enabling engineers to create a product in the real world...We are starting in VR, but the end goal is reality. Retail is the other way around, even though there are small differences—our picture is crisper, more precise, and we can scale object sizes to match the real world. If you connect all of these things, you have a new type of product.”
An Engineer's VR Headset
Polcak, Holecko, and a third partner, Vaclav Bittner, started working together to create a VR headset five years ago. Polcak, who holds degrees in electrical engineering and cybernetics from Czech Technical University in Prague, said he wasn't satisfied with the image quality of headsets on the market at the time. “I wanted to make a headset that would fulfill the promise of how we all want VR to work,” he said.
The team started working with automotive engineers and architects and were able to iterate prototypes of the VRHero based on their feedback. Holecko said several auto OEMs, including Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, signed on to test early units of the headset.
“From the beginning, image quality was the focus point. So there was no compromise on that, even though this is the first generation of the device,” Holecko said.