Insights EDU

Best XR Headsets for Location-based Entertainment – Part Two: 2022 and beyond

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Aaron Pulkka | Creative Producer and XR Consultant | Aaron Pulkka

01 Oct 2021 | 25 min read

Feature Image source: The Raft VR at Two Bit Circus

VR and AR (or mixed reality) headsets have proliferated and advanced significantly over the past 30 years, yet few are well suited to the demanding needs of location-based entertainment (LBE). In part one, we introduced seven key considerations for comparing LBE XR headsets and the evolution of legacy LBE VR headsets from 1991 through 2021.

While the original HTC Vive has been discontinued there is still a large install base of HTC Vive and Vive Pro headsets in locations worldwide. Even as the popularity of the HTC Vive product line increased, global supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic have also increased support and maintenance challenges. This and the development of attractive features in competitive devices has encouraged developers to explore alternatives.

In this article, we are going to examine the pros and cons of the top state-of-the-art headsets going into 2022 within each of three categories: Tethered VR, Untethered VR and Untethered AR, then wrap up with feature recommendations for ideal XR headsets for both room-scale and free-roam LBE attraction types.

 

Jump to:
Tethered LBE VR Headsets
Untethered LBE VR Headsets
Untethered LBE AR Headsets
Headset Recommendations for 2022 and Beyond
Features Wish List
Upcoming Headsets to Watch

 

Tethered LBE VR Headsets

While it may seem like untethered headsets are the ideal solution moving forward, tethered headsets offer advantages for some types of attractions. Unattended stationary attractions, like the Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride by Ubisoft and LAI Games, simply have no need for the extra mobility offered by an untethered device and already require security cabling to limit damage and theft.

Image Source: LAI Games

Moving the graphics hardware off the headset allows for a lighter, easier to balance headset with potentially greater comfort. This also enables operators to upgrade to the latest PC hardware to maintain an experience standalone headsets cannot and most guests won’t have available on their home PCs.

In this section, we examine three of the best PC tethered contenders: Valve Index, HP Reverb G2, and HTC Vive Pro 2.

Valve Index

Image Source: Envato Elements

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 1440×1600
  • FOV (horizontal): 107°
  • Audio: Integrated off-ear headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF SteamVR Base Station infrared optical tracking

Pros

  • Wider FOV than most

Cons

  • Limited initial supplies slowed adoption
  • Unusual controllers
  • Off-ear headphones fail to block noise

Description

The relationship between HTC and Valve is complicated, as evidenced by the 2019 launch of the Valve Index (4th VR Awards Hardware of the Year winner), with similar specs to the HTC Vive Pro. The Valve Index offers a wider field-of-view and unique ergonomic controller design, which combines unique features with some of the best elements of the Oculus Touch and Vive controllers. A downside of Valve’s controllers is that the advanced features can take a bit more time to get used to, especially for users already familiar with the other controllers. As with the HTC Vive, the batteries in the controllers are rechargeable but are not removable, which poses operational challenges since the batteries are unlikely to last throughout an entire day of operation.

Image Source: Andrew Toth / Getty Images for Netflix

While the Valve Index has not yet been widely adopted by LBE attractions, there are notable examples of its use including Netflix’s 2021 Army of the Dead Viva Las Vengeance VR experience in Los Angeles. In that instance, they used bespoke controllers, styled as rifles, rather than the standard controllers. 

Like all devices that use SteamVR Base Stations for tracking, it is possible to add more base stations to minimize occlusion, increase the overall tracking volume, and improve overall stability. However, there is a limit to how many base stations can be in close proximity to each other. Infrared light bounce can therefore cause problems in VR arcades where there are many headsets and base stations, which may require curtains or other methods to mitigate.

HP Reverb G2

Image Source: HP Development Company

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 2160×2160
  • FOV (horizontal): 98°
  • Audio: Integrated off-ear headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Higher visual quality than most
  • Swappable controller batteries

Cons

  • LBE friendly support
  • Off-ear headphones fail to block noise

Description

HP launched the first HP Reverb headset in 2019, followed by the Reverb G2 in 2020. Both offer a noticeable boost to visual quality over the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro, virtually eliminating the “screen door effect”. Of course, this increases the computing requirements including higher demands on the GPU, which may necessitate additional software optimizations or more expensive and potentially difficult to source high-end graphics hardware. Note that even the latest HP Z VR Backpack G2 PC doesn’t offer the latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000 chipset option. 

The headset weight is well-balanced and reasonably easy to adjust, though an over the head Velcro strap still presents challenges common to most headsets today. 

Since this headset supports both Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR platforms, it is still relatively easy to swap into attractions designed for the HTC Vive

Windows WMR inside-out tracking does not require mounting external base stations and includes the ability to track two controllers, but no other peripherals currently. This type of tracking also requires a somewhat carefully controlled lighting environment. If it is too dark, or too light, or there are not enough features in the environment the tracking can drift or fail. 

The WMR controllers are relatively easy to pick up and use, as they are similar in design to the Oculus Touch controllers. They also have removable batteries, which makes it easy to keep charged during a full day of operation with minimal interruption. 

Image Source: Zero Latency

The launch of the HP Reverb headsets, along with HP Z VR Backpack PCs, have been part of HP’s ongoing effort to actively support commercial VR applications, specifically including location-based entertainment. This push, along with the impressive specs and comfortable ergonomics, has contributed to HP gaining market share in the LBE VR space year-over-year.

HTC Vive Pro 2

Source: HTC Corporation

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 2448×2448
  • FOV (horizontal): 116°
  • Audio: Integrated off-ear headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF SteamVR Base Station infrared optical tracking

Pros

  • Superior image quality

Cons

  • Short controller battery life
  • Off-ear headphones fail to block noise

Description

In June of 2021, the HTC Vive Pro 2 launched with another impressive leap in visual quality, including increased resolution, field-of-view, and refresh rate (120 Hz). As with other high-fidelity headsets, taking advantage of these improvements increases computing requirements which costs more and can be difficult to source at times. 

The overall build quality remains solid and protective accessories can be purchased to enhance durability. Unfortunately, with respect to LBE, some of the same issues of their previous headsets were carried forward. 

The Vive controllers are unlikely to last all day and do not have removable batteries, which presents operational challenges. Operations staff must constantly return controllers to charging stations between players and be ready to swap in replacements, which can reduce throughput. 

While a dial in the back of the headset allows for quick adjustment, in some cases the over-the-head Velcro strap also requires adjustment or is simply incompatible with some hairstyles. As with other integrated off-ear headphones, these are convenient but do a poor job of blocking unwanted noise in loud environments, like arcades, which may necessitate external closed on-ear headphones to be handled separately. 

Untethered LBE VR Headsets

Attraction developers have experimented with a variety of standalone headsets, but the Oculus Quest, Vive Focus, and Pico Neo lines currently stand above the rest. 

It is worth noting that for integrating VR applications into water slides, or even snorkeling, the specialized DIVR headset has been built to specifically withstand those environments. The DIVR+ VR Snorkeling experience, powered by Ballast, was a notable finalist in the 4th VR Awards and featured in the The Magical Combination of Water and Virtual Reality Part 2 AIXR Insights article.

Image Source: Ballast VR

Oculus Quest 2

Source: Envato Elements

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 1832×1920
  • FOV (horizontal): 89°
  • Audio: Integrated speakers or external headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Impressive cost/performance ratio 

Cons

  • Fragile consumer-grade build quality
  • Poor ergonomics without the optional head strap
  • Short battery life
  • Integrated speakers fail to block noise

Description

When Facebook debuted the first Quest (3rd VR Awards Headset of the Year winner) at the 2019 Oculus Connect, they introduced it with an LBE style multi-player arena game called Dead and Buried. While this proved the viability of standalone headsets for use in LBE in a way that the Gear VR and Oculus Go did not, ironically Facebook maintained their prohibition against LBE use for some time after launch which has led to frustrating confusion within the LBE community.

Image Source: Dead and Buried @ OC5 / UploadVR

The consumer device also requires a Facebook login to operate, which is a non-starter in an out-of-home environment. Nevertheless, some developers have persisted in experimenting with the Quest headsets in LBE attractions. In December of 2020, Facebook released an Extended Use amendment to their Commercial License (with no Facebook login requirement) which specifically allows use in location-based experiences and arcades, provided customers using the headsets are always supervised by onsite staff.

While the latest tethered headsets have surpassed it, the Quest 2’s visual quality is superior to the previous generation of tethered headsets, with some obvious limitations on in-game asset complexity and fidelity due to the limited capabilities of the on-board computer running a custom version of Android OS. While this can be circumvented using the experimental AirLink feature to wirelessly connect to a PC, it is risky to depend that much on a clean WiFi signal in most out-of-home environments and requires an expensive VR-ready PC.

Since the Quest 2 was designed as a budget-conscious personal consumer device, it is not built to withstand rough handling. The arms that attach the strap to the headset can easily snap off under pressure or frequent use. By default, the device ships with fabric straps with Velcro for adjustment across the top and around the back, which makes it difficult to evenly distribute the front-heavy weight. 

There are two optional headset strap replacements that help mitigate this with an adjustment dial, including the Elite Strap with Battery Pack that not only doubles the battery life but also better optimizes the weight distribution for improved comfort. However, since this battery pack is not easily removable, it still has a relatively limited battery life of a few hours. Some operators have taken to strapping on additional batteries that can more easily be swapped out.

Image Source: Facebook Technologies

There are only 3 IPD settings, which is easier to adjust than a dial and will accommodate most though not all users. The Quest 2 can also be a tight fit for glasses, so while you can outfit it with prescription lenses for use at home putting it on over prescription eyewear risks scratching the lenses if the guest’s glasses fit inside the headset at all. 

Like many headsets before it, the default foam face cushion must be discarded and replaced with a more hygienic material that is easier to keep clean.

Pico Neo 3 Pro

Source: Pico Interactive

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 1832×1920
  • FOV (horizontal): 98°
  • Audio: Integrated speakers or external headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Adjustable for comfort

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Integrated speakers fail to block noise

Description

ByteDance, best known for their TikTok social video-sharing app, acquired Pico Interactive in 2021. As the Pico Neo devices are comparable to the Oculus Quest yet do not have the same restrictions on commercial use, some LBE creators like Spree Interactive already started using these before the acquisition and the highly publicized investment is likely to increase adoption.  

Image Source: Spree Interactive

The latest Pico Neo 3 Pro has similar specs to the Quest 2, but with better out-of-the-box weight distribution adjustability and a slightly wider Field of View.

HTC Vive Focus 3

Image Source: HTC Corporation

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 2448×2448
  • FOV (horizontal): 116°
  • Audio: Integrated speakers or external headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Swappable battery
  • Superior image quality and FOV
  • Magnetic replaceable face cushions
  • Easily adjustable

Cons

  • Integrated speakers fail to block noise
  • The highest price of standalone headsets

Description

The HTC Vive Focus 3 is the successor to the Vive Focus Plus, which was used by ModalVR in their VR arcade attractions and had a nearly identical display and compute specs to the original Oculus Quest but with a more arcade friendly headset design

Image Source: Modal Systems, Inc.

Launched in 2021, the Vive Focus 3 adds several important features of note for LBE VR, including integrated swappable batteries and removable magnetic face cushions for easier cleaning. Like PSVR, the Vive Focus 3 also includes a quick-release button to easily resize or remove. There is also a more fine-grained IPD adjustment dial than the 3-setting option on the Oculus Quest 2. The controllers are more similar to Quest controllers, albeit larger, than the original Vive controllers. As with the other standalone headsets with off-ear speakers, external closed on-ear headphones are needed to block noise in crowded environments. 

While we have yet to see it in arcades, this is a powerful device offering unmatched display quality in a standalone headset which seems well suited to LBE VR applications.

Image Source: HTC Corporation

Untethered LBE AR Headsets

Since LBE XR is primarily a social activity, mixed reality or AR headsets can provide an obvious advantage over VR headsets for some out-of-home experiences, since you can truly see your fellow participants’ body language and facial expressions. Mixed reality themed entertainment experiences can also combine the best of theatrical set design, physical props, live actors, and digital elements to create magical immersive experiences. Lighting must be carefully controlled for AR experiences, as inside-out positional tracking requires being able to clearly see features in the environment, but if it is too bright then the digital elements can be washed out. LBE venues can therefore be tuned for an optimal experience and side-step some of the challenges of making experiences that can be played in arbitrary places.

The first LBE AR headsets to appear in arcades were custom made rigs using smartphones, such as the initial iteration of Meleap’s HADO AR using an iPhone in each headset plus a wrist strapped iOS device as a controller. Colorful murals serve not just as set dressing, but also as markers for spatial tracking.

Source: HADO AR by Meleap Inc.

Subsequently both Microsoft and Magic Leap have released all-in-one AR headsets which offer more advanced mixed reality features such as occlusion to blend digital objects into the real-world. Some may consider the Quest 2 a mixed reality headset, thanks to the recently released experimental Passthrough API. However, the Quest 2 can only blend digital elements with a low-fidelity black & white image of the real world stitched together from the tracking cameras. While this can have useful applications such as easing the onboarding process, it is simply not in the same class as the Hololens 2 or Magic Leap 1 which merge holographic imagery with a clear direct view of the real world.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Source: The Unreal Garden / LBX Immersive / Enklu

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 1440×936
  • FOV (horizontal): 43°
  • Audio: Integrated speakers or external headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Comfortable and easy to adjust
  • Accommodates prescription eyeglasses

Cons

  • Extremely narrow FOV
  • Relatively fragile
  • No 6DOF controllers (hand tracking only)

Description

The original HoloLens launched in 2016 as the first standalone mixed reality headset and found its way into location-based experiences like the Holographic Easter Egg Hunt at VRLA in 2017 and the premiere of Unreal Garden at Onedome in 2018.

Image Source: After Now / FLARB / VRLA

The HoloLens 2 released in 2019 has a more comfortable ergonomic design and while it has a wider FOV than the first HoloLens, it is unfortunately still as narrow as the Virtuality Visette from 1991. This is especially noticeable because the transparent display offers a significantly wider view of the real world, which makes the small display appear like a cut-out or even a semi-transparent TV floating in front of your face. The wider transparent view is helpful to avoid running into obstacles and the more time users spend in the device, the less noticeable this limited digital FOV is. Given time users build a mental model of the holographic elements which mentally persist even when out of view. However, many out-of-home experiences would be over before this accommodation has time to occur and the initial off-putting impression of the narrow FOV may persist throughout the entire duration.  

As Microsoft is marketing the HoloLens 2 as an enterprise device, rather than a consumer device, it is reasonably durable but not inexpensive. The transparent display easily fits over most prescription eyeglasses. While it does offer hand tracking and voice input, it lacks support for 6DOF controllers. The internal battery only lasts a few hours is not removable, so the entire device must be taken out of circulation to charge. 

Nevertheless, HoloLens 2 has been a great platform for various location-based activations including the 2021 relaunch of the Unreal Garden in San Francisco – which used the original HoloLens at the initial Onedome installation.

Source: The Unreal Garden / LBX Immersive / Enklu

In social experiences like this where virtual objects are physically locked in the real-world, the off-ear speakers on the HoloLens 2 work well enough and naturally allow for conversation amongst cohorts.

Magic Leap 1

Image Source: Aaron Pulkka @ GDC 2019

Specs

  • Resolution Per Eye: 1280×960
  • FOV (horizontal): 50°
  • Audio: Integrated speakers or external headphones
  • Tracking: 6DOF inside-out optical tracking

Pros

  • Separately wearable computer reduces weight on head
  • Includes one 6DOF controller

Cons

  • Extremely narrow FOV
  • Incompatible with prescription eyeglasses 

Description

Originally released as the Magic Leap One Creator Edition in 2018, the nearly identical Magic Leap 1 has similar specs to the HoloLens 2 with a few notable exceptions. The Magic Leap 1 has a tethered hockey puck-sized computer, rather than housing electronics inside the headset itself, and includes one Magic Leap Remove 6DOF controller. The computer can be attached to a belt or worn with an over the shoulder strap, which reduces the overall weight of the headset.

Magic Leap demonstrated an LBE-style multiplayer arena experience, Weta Workshop’s Grordbattle, at the 2019 GDC and then brought the LBE Game of Thrones marketing activation, The Dead Must Die: A Magic Leap Encounter, to AT&T flagship stores. Using the 6DOF controller as a torch, participants interacted with a mixture of physical and digital creatures.

Image Source: Magic Leap Inc.

While the Magic Leap 1 has a narrow FOV like the HoloLens 2, it is somewhat less noticeable since the frames around the transparent display limit the real-world view more than the HoloLens does. This leads users to turn their head more, rather than lead with their eyes within the viewing area, which is the best way to overcome the limited FOV. Unfortunately, the smaller form factor of the Magic Leap 1 does not accommodate prescription eyewear. Instead, Magic Leap can provide a set of vision correcting lenses for users insert – assuming they have a common prescription and know what it is. This is cumbersome for an out-of-home experience and can limit throughput. 

The battery only lasts a few hours and is not removable, so the headset must be taken out of operation to charge. As an enterprise device it is a bit more durable than typical consumer devices, but also more costly. Like other standalone AR headsets, the Magic Leap 1 is usable in LBE, even if not ideally suited for it.

Headset Recommendations for 2022 and Beyond

Image Source: AIXR

What’s the best headset to use for 2022? The answer depends on the specific use case and truthfully the optimal headset may not yet exist. Hopefully the exploration above will help guide the decision for now, while also highlighting areas for improvement in future headset designs. Below is a wish list summary of recommendations for future LBE hardware, followed by a few upcoming contenders to keep an eye out for in 2022 and beyond.

Features Wish List

Revisiting the list of considerations from part one (Tethered vs Untethered, Display Specs, Audio, Hygiene, Durability, Physical Comfort, and Spatial Tracking), with the specific pros and cons of existing hardware in mind, we can now summarize the most important wish list items for upcoming LBE XR headsets.

Tethered vs Untethered

The impending death of PC VR has been greatly exaggerated, as it continues to be an important consumer niche even as standalone headsets grow in popularity, and both PC tethered room-scale (seated or standing) and high-fidelity backpack PC powered free-roam VR attractions can benefit from high-quality tethered headsets. We therefore look forward to the continued availability of tethered headsets that offer the features outlined in the rest of this section. 

That said, of course we would like to have all the power of a PC tethered headset without the cumbersome cables or backpack PCs. Wireless PC connection solutions such as VIVE Wireless Adapter, which only allows for up to 3 headsets in the same area, and Oculus AirLink, which is in experimental beta mode, unfortunately fall short. In addition to their specific technical limitations, existing WiFi interference in an electromagnetically noisy environment like an arcade can cause unacceptable levels of signal drops and packet loss for streaming immersive content. Ultimately, we desire a reliable system that can support an arbitrary number of wireless headsets (on the order of tens or even hundreds) in the same general area. 

Standalone headsets which render the immersive visuals locally are more resistant to wireless interference since it is far less disruptive to miss an occasional telemetry update than dropping real-time input and immersive visuals. Therefore, especially for free-roam experiences, we look forward to untethered XR headsets increasing their computational power to narrow the gap between standalone and PC-based hardware. Most LBE XR experiences are under an hour long, so we can tolerate relatively limited battery of two hours or less, provided there is a way to rapidly charge devices without taking them out of circulation. Swappable batteries like the Vive Focus 3 provides are ideal, though even then it is imperative that batteries be available in sufficient quantity to have enough spares on hand to enable continuous operation. 

Display Specs

The resolution and refresh frequency of current devices have reached the point that additional increases may have diminishing returns, especially if the available computational power is not able to keep up. Likewise, FOV in excess of 120° is usually of limited utility and for some experiences the FOV may need to be purposefully reduced to minimize motion sickness. In short, VR headset display specs are on track to meet the needs of most LBE attractions, while AR headsets still have room for improvement. Super premium experiences will nevertheless happily take advantage of whatever best-in-class hardware is available. 

Audio

While some social experiences, especially AR or mixed reality, can get by with off-ear speakers or headphones, most LBE VR attractions require the sound isolation provided by closed-back on-ear headphones. We would like to see VR headsets with integrated high-quality sound isolating headphones, to reduce the throughput limiting hassle of dealing with external headphones. 

Hygiene

Anything that touches the guest must be a smooth, easy to clean material that can withstand frequent sanitization. No foam face pads, fabric straps, or other porous materials. Ideally, the electronics of the headset should be separable from the portions that come in direct contact with the guest. This can be done with removable pads, as seen on the Vive Focus 3, or with an entirely separate headliner like the DisneyQuest HMD and Dreamcraft DreamSet

Durability

LBE needs hardware that is as durable as laser tag gear. Expect it to be knocked, dropped, and generally handled roughly. Components that cannot be sufficiently ruggedized must be easy to replace. Incorporation of security cables into tethered headset design would also be helpful, both to minimize theft, but also to help minimize strain on the fragile data cables connected to the headset. 

Physical Comfort

Light weight, evenly distributed, adjustable headwear to fit a wide variety of head shapes and hair styles is a must. PlayStation VR and HoloLens 2 provide good benchmarks for the overall comfort and ease of adjustment needed by LBE XR attractions. A quick release button, like on the PSVR and Vive Focus 3, would be a welcome addition to all devices moving forward. 

Headsets must also fit comfortably over prescription eyeglasses, until we have headsets that can automatically provide vision correction on the fly. 

Spatial Tracking

While tracking only the headset and hands in small areas is sufficient for most consumer applications, many LBE VR experiences require tracking additional body parts and/or props over a large free-roam arena-scale area. Except for the HTC Vive Tracker, current headset tracking systems do not provide the ability to track more objects. Therefore, attraction developers currently need to either augment or replace the provided tracking system with an external motion capture system like Vicon, OptiTrack or PhaseSpace. To streamline development and reduce costs, we would prefer that the headset tracking system either provide third-party mocap system integration natively or preferably make this integration unnecessary by providing the ability to track an arbitrary number of objects in addition to head and hands. 

A shared coordinate system between headsets in the same physical space is also imperative for multi-player free-roam XR experiences to function. This feature should be provided natively by all headset providers, no matter what tracking solution they employ. 

Upcoming Headsets to Watch

While we are all looking forward to the next iterations from the leading manufacturers like HTC, HP, and Microsoft, there a few highly anticipated headsets worth keeping an eye out for including upcoming hardware from Apple, Facebook, Magic Leap, and Kura Technologies.

Image Source: Apple / US Patent & Trademark Office

Apple HMD

Little is publicly known about the upcoming Apple HMD mixed reality headset, beyond what can be extrapolated from patent filings. Though as we know from the run up to Magic Leap’s launch, abandoned paths that led to some of those patents can be misleading. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Apple will launch a powerful VR headset with mixed reality capabilities via pass-through cameras sometime in 2022. Expectations are that this will be an expensive (likely priced between the HTC Vive Focus 3 and Microsoft HoloLens 2) yet powerful high-resolution (8K) device powered by the latest Apple M series chipset rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon processors found in most standalone XR headsets today. While Apple’s design is expected to be stylish for the consumer market, we can only hope it will be robust enough for use in LBE too.

Oculus Quest 2 Pro

Facebook has been hinting at a 2022 release of the Oculus Quest 2 Pro as an enhanced version of the Quest targeted at an enterprise audience, which may be more appropriate for use in LBE than the current Quest 2. This will likely include eye tracking, which is already a standard feature in the AR headsets described above but is not yet a high demand feature for LBE. No indication yet if the passthrough functionality will be improved with higher resolution color images. While hope has been brewing for a separate AR headset from Facebook, the recently launched Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, powered by Facebook, are not AR glasses at all. 

Magic Leap 2

The Magic Leap CEO, Peggy Johnson, has indicated that the next generation Magic Leap device will begin shipping in limited quantities in 2021 and become broadly available in 2022. The Magic Leap 2 is being optimized with double the FOV (~100°) and a smaller, lighter, overall more comfortable form factor to accommodate wearing for extended periods in professional settings. This all sounds promising, except that it likely means that the new device will not fit over prescription eyeglasses either.

KURA Gallium 

Image Source: Kura Technologies

While the form factor of the KURA Gallium may also be more appropriate for enterprise use than LBE, given the need for specialized prescription lenses rather than fitting over existing eyewear, these upcoming glasses promise an impressive feature set including a super-wide 150° FOV and 8K per eye display. These have a similar form factor to the Nreal Light mixed reality glasses, which didn’t make the list above simply because they don’t offer LBE advantages over the leading mixed reality headsets. 

The general drive for smaller, lighter, everyday eyewear for mixed reality applications is exciting for consumers, while not precisely what we are looking for in LBE. If the technology that enables the KURA Gallium features could be integrated into a more LBE friendly headset, it could be game changing for the industry. Alternatively, if and when consumers do begin to adopt mixed reality eyeglasses like these or Snap’s Next Generation Spectacles for everyday personal use, then we can design experiences for personal AR-powered eyewear to integrate with existing attractions or otherwise leverage the more controllable environment of LBE venues as compared with the arbitrary environments at home.

What’s Next?

As we await the next generations of hardware, we can only hope that their designers are considering the demanding needs of LBE, especially given the overlapping benefits for enterprise applications. If you have recommendations of your own regarding the relative importance of headset features or specific hardware that seem well suited to LBE applications, please share with me via Twitter @apulkka

 

If you missed out on the previous part of this series you can find part one of Best XR Headsets for Location-based Entertainment here.

About the author:

Aaron Pulkka is an interactive entertainment creative executive with over 25 years of experience with emerging tech, including engineering, design, and production roles at Walt Disney Imagineering, Sony, Activision, Two Bit Circus, and Madison Square Garden Entertainment. Currently, he serves as the Chair of the AIXR LBE Advisory Group and a freelance consultant working with clients on innovative VR/AR/XR, location-based entertainment, blockchain gaming, and interactive storytelling projects.

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