For schools who want to use VR, be it for virtual field trips or to add some spark to those dull chemistry lessons, it's not that easy to get in the game. The high end of VR, like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, is still way too expensive. On the low, low end, you have things like Google Cardboard, but then you need a phone for every student that's going to use it.
Razergon co-founder Galen Law-Kun realized there was an opportunity that hadn't been fully met while on a trip to France, where he saw how VR was impacting education. And then he realised he could take advantage of that opportunity and bring good, affordable, simple VR to the masses at the same time.
Razergon VR is a $219 headset raising funds on on Kickstarter that doesn't require a desktop computer, a phone, or cables to anything. It's an all-in-one system with 2560 x 1440 LCD displays and a haptic-feedback enabled motion controller. There's also a built-in battery, a capacitive touchpad on the headset (yes, just like the Gear VR), and a quad-core processor.
Before making the headset, Law-Kun tells Wareable, the company studied other VR headsets on the low end and high end and tried to figure out where it could squeeze in. It found out that in the segment it wanted to enter, a lot of companies sacrifice battery life and heat dispersion for other features, like high-resolution displays. It figured it could solve both problems and put together a wish list of what its headset would have. From there, it built the headset.
"In order to have a VR headset, what do we need? It has to be an all-in-one package. It has to have a built-in display, it has to have a user interface that's very intuitive, and that's why we've developed a capacitive touchpad," he says.
Razergon took its desire for an intuitive experience and designed the OqtaMotion motion controller, and it worked with a Russian company to make sure it has an AirPods-like connection to the headset enabled with a custom wireless chip. Law-Kun describes the controller as a Wii remote without the external sensor to track it. In fact, the manufacturer behind the Wii remote is also making the OqtaMotion.
And then there's the OS, which is the heart of where Razergon's ambitions lie. Razergon will launch pre-loaded with Nibiru OS, but it's working on Oqtagon OS, a custom operating system built on top of Android, with access to the Google Play Store and its collection of apps and games.
The big hope here is to offer a good, affordable VR experience for all, and then use that as a base to create bespoke VR experiences for education institutes and companies using Oqtagon OS, then investing in more technology to bring better VR experiences to the mass market and so on and so forth.
A great question that not even Google Assistant could answer. Firstly, Razergon recognizes the danger of Kickstarter backing. Law-Kun has backed several projects, and he's been keeping track of why some of them crash and die and why others don't, lessons he hopes he's applying to Razergon.
"[Some projects] don't do their research for R&D or have initial prototypes before [they] launch, and that causes a lot of delays and you spend a lot of money building a mould and you burn out and it doesn't work," he says.
He says Razergon has investors that have allowed the company to develop prototype headsets, and that the company has already been through hardware delays trying to get things as right as they can before launching the Kickstarter. Law-Kun has also traveled to about a hundred factories inspecting them, looking for a partner to build its headset.
On the hardware front, Razergon looks like it's ready to ship in March 2018, but there still remains a question over software. On Razergon's Kickstarter page, it says the device will ship with Nibiru OS and will eventually get upgraded to Oqtagon OS. Law-Kun says this could work out in a dual-boot situation, where you could choose your OS.
The other big question is whether Razergon will be able to balance consumer and education customers properly. While regular old consumers will be more interested in games and unique experiences, education and businesses require more attention on a larger scale.
Also, how does it fit into a world with Windows Mixed Reality and Google Daydream View? "Google Daydream, I think, will be one of our biggest competitors," Law-Kun says. "Simply because [Google and its partners] are massive." To combat this, Law-Kun says he sees Razergon as the OnePlus of the VR world. Creating good, affordable VR experiences that target a niche audience.
If you're an educator or business person who wants to teach students or train students in VR, the Razergon VR should be a dream come true ‚Äď an affordable headset with bespoke VR experiences. For the rest of you, it's hard to fully recommend Razergon as its passion lies in education, not consumer VR.