Virtual reality developer Bigscreen is expanding into hardware, unveiling its self-proclaimed “world’s smallest VR headset”, the Beyond. This title is also not entirely without merit.
The beyond (opens in new tab) it’s about 5.6 inches long, two inches wide, and clocks in at just over four ounces barring any added accessories. For comparison purposes, the Oculus Quest 2, another lightweight VR headset, weighs nearly four times as much at 17.7 ounces. The company’s CEO, Darshan Shankar, told TechCrunch that as technology improved, VR headsets became bigger and bulkier. Heavier devices can cause neck strain, restricting the user’s movement and affecting gameplay. So Bigscreen decided to go the opposite way, creating a more comfortable and compact machine. Granted, it achieves some of that weight loss by offloading batteries and some components to the connected PC.
And while it’s a lightweight headset, the developers haven’t skimped on power, as it has some admittedly impressive specs.
Headset under the hood
Unlike the Oculus Quest 2, Bigscreen didn’t create its own operating system. Beyond runs on Steam VR, allowing it to support the platform’s base station, controllers, and a multitude of accessories. He still comes with SteamVR Tracking (opens in new tab) built-in so that it can accurately track your body movements with a high degree of accuracy.
The output of virtual reality games are two 90 Hz MicroOLED screens with 5K resolution (5,120 x 2560 pixels) resulting in what, the company promises, offer “breathtaking colors (and) sharp clarity”. unwanted motion blur or the annoying screen door effect. This is when thin black lines appear between pixels, ruining image quality.
To achieve Beyond’s lightweight design, the developers made some interesting design choices. For starters, the headset comes with a three-element pancake-type optical lens, allowing for a compact fit without sacrificing clarity. It also doesn’t come with any on-device controls or adjustment knobs to get a perfect fit, as each device will be custom-made for your face. This fit is achieved through a 3D facial scan.
Tailor made for you
When you order the Beyond, Bigscreen will email you a link to download the company’s own iOS-only facial scanning app. The app will send a detailed 3D mesh of your face to the company’s Los Angeles factory, which will use it to create your bespoke headset.
Pre-orders are open for (opens in new tab) the Beyond, which will retail for $999. Some accessories are also available for pre-order, with more on the way. You can get an audio wristband, which is basically a pair of headphones, for $99, and special magnetic lenses for $79 that go over your eye socket. You’ll be able to buy a custom face pad and fiber optic cable later, but right now there’s no price for those two.
In the US, Beyond will launch in Q3 2023 (around mid-summer). But due to the personalized nature of the headset, it may take a few weeks or months for it to arrive in your home. Other countries such as Canada, Japan and Australia will not receive Beyond until the fourth quarter.
In short, quite interesting headset. As we noted above, unlike the Oculus Quest, this is not a wireless headset. Other reports (opens in new tab) point out that you will need to plug the Beyond into your link box and connect it to your PC to provide video and power. We asked Bigscreen if there are any plans to create an Android version of its face scanning app. This story will be updated if we hear back.
While we’re with you, be sure to check out TechRadar’s recent updates. list of best VR headsets of 2023.