It's fair to say we're at the early stage of the modern virtual reality and augmented reality movement that's poised to transform the industry. That's evidenced by first generation consumer headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which are promising but also expensive and require a relatively powerful PC to run. The VR/AR category will evolve, though a Canadian startup is taking a stab at what a second generation head mounted display (HMD) might be like and it has the backing of AMD.
The startup is Sulon and it's built what it claims is the "first and only all-in-one, tether free, 'wear and play' spatially-aware headset for VR and AR." Called Sulon Q, the Canadian outfit unveiled its mixed reality headset at the 2016 Game Developer Conference (GDC) alongside AMD, which is powering the device.
Unlike Rift or Vive, the Sulon Q doesn't require a PC—it's an all-in-one headset containing all the necessary hardware inside, including an AMD FX-8800P System-on-Chip (SoC) featuring four compute cores and and eight GPU cores based on AMD's Radeon R7 graphics. There's also 8GB of DDR3L memory, 256GB solid state drive, and a Spatial Processing Unit that provides real-time environment mapping and tracking.
Sulon says the four compute cores and eight GPU core are unlocked through a special Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) that enables the cores to share memory and work together. In this way, the Sulon Q is optimized for modern workloads and media formats. It's also capable of using the latest graphics APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan, and it integrates AMD's LiquidVR technologies to boot. The result is a headset capable of delivering console-quality graphics, or so that's the claim.
Those graphics are beamed to a 2560x1440 OLED display running at 90Hz, which renders both AR and VR content—think Rift meets HoloLens meets GearVR. The headset gives wearers a 110-degree field of view. In addition to all this, the headset boasts 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, micro HDMI output, a host of sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and spatial mapping and tracking), 3.5mm audio jack, 3D spatial audio, and Windows 10 support.
It's an exhaustive list of features of technologies, and quite frankly, it sounds too good to be true. However, AMD is intimately involved with this project, so this isn't some fly-by-night startup looking to drum up publicity before fading off into the ether. Whether or not the finished product works as hyped remains to be seen, but Sulon and AMD are certainly swinging for the fences here.
Sulon says it hopes to launch the Sulon Q in late spring. There's no mention of a price, but considering all the hardware and technologies involved, it's not likely to be cheap.