I won’t be backing Arpara’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign and there are some concerning issues we should flag our community about as the project seeks money.
The page on Kickstarter went public on December 14th, but we’ve seen hands-on reports from Cas & Chary and VR_Oasis who actually tried to test the company’s hardware and their tweets give immediate pause:
I know people are desperate for a Facebook / Meta alternative but this isn’t it. It’s not good VR. Based on my experience I would say be very careful with the upcoming Kickstarter. It reminds me of using the Oculus Go with Nolo to play SteamVR 3 years ago 👎🏻👎🏻 pic.twitter.com/AsLcxtjvak
— Mike – VRO (@vr_oasis) December 7, 2021
Update on our @arpara5K_VR video! Decided to delay it… There are some interesting things here, like the display & software. But this wouldn’t matter with the Nolo tracking as it’s just not enough. They are sending us the SteamVR tracker in a few weeks, will re-review it then 🧐 pic.twitter.com/Vf9rem3RSC
— Cas and Chary VR (@CasandChary) December 9, 2021
Complications related to the continuing global pandemic are making the task of securing components and manufacturing capacity challenging for some of the world’s largest companies. So while backing any crowdfunding project is risky, essentially pre-ordering hardware in these conditions is even riskier than normal. Add to that the promise of these new VR headsets pitched as part of a Kickstarter campaign from a company with no obvious track record? That’s more than a reasonable amount of risk to the money backers might put into this project.
DecaGear recently cited price variations and component costs in changes to the prospects for its planned VR headset. With Arpara, you also need to consider comments like “it’s just not enough” and “It’s not good VR” from among Arpara’s hands-on reports. There’s little solace to be found in the self-submitted “risks” section of Arpara’s Kickstarter page, which reads: “we are confident that our reliable supplier and manufacturer help minimize unforeseen problems in the production process.”
The Arpara page lists February 12, 2022 as the project’s ending date, and according to Kickstarter policy, “once a successful project has ended, and collection has started, it is no longer possible to cancel your pledge.”
We don’t have hands-on experience with any of the VR headsets the Arpara Kickstarter page estimates as shippable from March of 2022. There may still be time for us to try these devices before the end of the fundraising campaign (we’ll be at CES in January of 2022), but given the things we’ve flagged here we believe it unrealistic (at best) this project fulfills its promises in a timely manner.
Also, one of the Arpara headsets (supposedly all-in-one) was shown in a now-deleted video posted to an account named “Team Arpara”. Low resolution through-the-lens footage in the video showed an interface reminding us of Meta’s Quest. You can see some of these similarities in the screenshot below from Arpara’s Kickstarter page, but in the video we even spotted a “guardian” system listed in settings just like on Meta’s Quest.
While those similarities are likely to raise eyebrows, it is really the positional tracking technology here that has us scratching our heads the most. Hands-on reports with Arpara hardware mention using the headsets in tandem with third party Nolo hardware for positional tracking. The Kickstarter page for the project also actively pitches a model that’s supposedly compatible with SteamVR Tracking, with the all-in-one model claimed as having an inside-out tracking system similar to Meta’s capable of a “millimeter-level positioning experience.” Of all the claims we’re skeptical about on this Kickstarter page, this is the one that gives us the longest pause. While some people prefer SteamVR tracking and its accessory ecosystem, inside-out positional tracking offers a path to more affordable VR systems and improving the technology is a top priority at companies like Meta, Apple, Microsoft and others. These global technology giants are paying the world’s top computer vision engineers some of the highest salaries to push this specific inside-out tracking technology forward. Are we to believe Arpara developed a tracking technology rivaling those tech giants? And it isn’t ready just a few months before the promised ship date?
Further, Arpara yesterday announced a “referral scheme” promising backers “8% commission of every dollar you help raise for our campaign.” Looking at that pitch from a higher level, it suggests that if someone is promoting Arpara’s crowdfunding campaign there may be an ulterior motive behind that referral.
We’ll update this post if we receive substantial new information, but as it stands now we recommend in the strongest terms possible avoiding the Arpara crowdfunding campaign.
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