French startup Lynx just launched the Kickstarter campaign for its upcoming standalone AR-VR hybrid headset.
The device is promised for pledges above €425 to non-EU countries, equivalent to around $500.
UPDATE October 6: Lynx initially included EU VAT in all pledges, but now offers a non-EU option, reducing the price by roughly $100.
Lynx R1 was initially announced in February 2020 as a $1500 product focused on businesses and professionals, but in July of this year the company announced a radical strategy shift, removing eye tracking to significantly reduce price and target consumers too.
The headset uses the same Snapdragon XR2 processor found in Oculus Quest 2 & HTC’s Vive Focus 3. But whereas those headsets can only show a low resolution black & white view of the real world, Lynx R1 has two dedicated high resolution color cameras for passthrough AR.
Its unique lens design – a “4-fold catadioptric freeform prism” – enables a more compact form factor than typical VR headsets. In front of the lenses are dual 1600×1600 LCD panels running at 90Hz. That’s lower resolution than Quest 2, but higher than Valve Index.
For better weight balance the battery is located in the rear, and the company says it should last two hours of active use between charges. While AR mode lets you see the real world, you can also flip up the headset without having to take it off or awkwardly balance it on your head.
The package includes a VR facial interface to block out light from the sides when playing virtual reality content.
Two dedicated IR cameras on the front of the headset enable Ultraleap hand tracking, the device’s primary input method. By pledging €99 (around $115) extra you can also get a pair of tracked controllers, produced in a partnership with FinchShift. These controllers don’t actually have LEDs for the headset cameras to follow – instead their accelerometer & gyroscope (IMU) data is fused with hand tracking.
Like Oculus Quests, Lynx R1 runs a modified version of Android and will have a boundary safety system similar to Facebook’s Guardian. Lynx has its own SDK, but also plans to support OpenXR content in Q4 of 2022. The app store on Lynx R1 will offer VR apps, AR apps, and even apps that can switch between each.
At launch Lynx R1 will support SteamVR via USB-C cable to a gaming PC. A future update will add wireless SteamVR streaming. Virtual Desktop developer Guy Godin said he looks forward to supporting other OpenXR headsets.
The estimated shipping month is April, though as with all Kickstarter campaigns this should be treated as an aspiration. UploadVR plans to get hands-on with Lynx R1 in the coming months to bring you our impressions.