HP, Microsoft, & Valve collaborated on the HP Reverb G2, which is opening for pre-orders today for $599 and will start shipping in the Fall. It has the same resolution as the G1 of 2160 x 2160 pixels per eye, but with improved optics. Road to VR’s Ben Lang has a detailed hands-on look, but it sounds like it’s some of the highest quality visuals available for any headset. It’s using the inside-out tracking from Microsoft, as well as the audio technology that’s available on the Valve Index, which has some amazing quality and frequency response.
I had a chance to talk with HP’s Joanna Popper and VR Product Manager John Ludwig last week in order to get all of the latest spec details, the story behind their collaboration with Valve and Microsoft, what’s happening with location-based entertainment, as well as what it’s like to launch a VR product in the midst of a global pandemic.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.
[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So back in March, it was reported that HP was collaborating with Microsoft and Valve on a new headset, and there was a lot of eyebrows that were raised that were really intrigued to see what this collaboration would be between HP, Microsoft, and Valve, and some of the details about their second iteration of the HP Reverb G1 So today, actually, on Thursday, May 28th, 2020, they're going to be announcing more details about the HP Reverb G2. I actually had a chance to talk to them last week to get a little bit more context and details. They're going to be making an announcement today at AWE and then having a whole event tonight here in Altspace. So if you hear this on Thursday, then you can pop into Altspace later on today and be able to get more context and information as well. But this interview was with Joanna Popper and John Ludwig. They're both working on VR at HP, and so they're going to give a little bit more context and details as to the latest iteration for the HP Reverb G2. The price that they didn't announce in this conversation, it's going to be $599. Pre-orders are open today, and it's going to be available later in the fall. So this interview with Joanna and John happened on Friday, May 22nd, 2020. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:31.003] Joanna Popper: Hi, I'm Joanna Popper, and I'm working in HP, focused on our go-to-market and our location-based entertainment. I've been at HP about two and a half years now. It's great to be here with you, Kent.
[00:01:42.673] Kent Bye: Awesome. Welcome.
[00:01:44.894] John Ludwig: Hi, I'm John Ludwig. I'm the lead product manager for VR here at HP. I've been at HP about five years, used to do Omen Gaming, and now I've been working on VR for the past few years.
[00:01:55.128] Kent Bye: Okay, so apparently you're going to be making some announcements about the HP Reverb G2, so I'll hand it over to you. I don't have a lot of context as to what you're going to be announcing, so why don't you let me know what you're going to be revealing about the HP Reverb G2.
[00:02:12.281] John Ludwig: Cool, cool. So yeah, so last year, we came out with the HP Reverb G1. And for that headset, we really focused on commercial customers. So we were focused on things like very high resolution. So as an architect, you could see what the brick looks like now you get less aliasing on diagonal lines, it was a building, you can see the granite leather. We also focused on kind of comfort and a quick in and out experience because when you're giving people you know, the demo of their new building or new product, right? They just want to get the VR headset on quickly. And so we focused on a large sweet spot for the lens with the Reverb G1. What we're announcing here, or already announced when this airs, is the Reverb G2. So what basically happened is, you know, we were talking to our friends at Valve, they've been testing out the Reverb G1. They said, hey, this is a really good base to go make an amazing immersive gaming headset. We'd love to work with you, do some design work on it, provide some of our technologies, and then HP and Microsoft with your great tracking technology, and Valve brings in some great optics technology and audio technology, and we can make an amazing headset together, and we'll call it the Reverb G2. And of course, when Val comes along and says, hey, we'd like to work with you and give you some technology, you say yes. So we said yes. And then the project kind of started to snowball. Originally, it was what I call a lighter refresh. And by the end, it was almost entirely new headset. So great for customers, exciting for us. So the big changes you were here, you know, I'm a spec guy. So, uh, and I'm, I am the hardware guy. So, uh, you know, I'm getting a little too carried away. Just stop me.
[00:03:48.638] Kent Bye: Now go ahead. What are the specs? That's what everybody immediately wants to know. And I have lots of other questions as well, but yeah, let's, let's start at the baseline as to what you were able to do with this latest iteration.
[00:03:58.316] John Ludwig: Yeah, so with the G2, I'm just going to go through display, then audio, then some gesture input. So for displays, we kept the same resolution year over year, which is still leading amongst major vendors, which is 2160 by 2160 per eye on an LCD panel, but they are brand new LCD panels. So we really worked on making all those pixels work harder for you. So that means we increased the contrast, we increased the brightness, we also lowered the persistence, the time the actual pixels light up for to give you a bit smoother experience. But the biggest thing we did is on the first generation, our panels had a bit of perceived mirror. So the color temperature of each pixel wasn't quite the same. And so it looked almost as you look through it, like you're looking through a pair of dirty glasses or a pair of dirty goggles into this world. There was a constant pattern you could see as you looked into this virtual reality world. We got rid of all that mirror with these new panels. So now it looks like you're just looking straight into a new world. Nothing in between you and the new reality you want to experience. Of course, it's not all about just the LCD panel. You gotta throw some lenses on top. And that's where Valve really came in. And they designed a brand new pair of lenses to go with this, along with calibration. These lenses really focus on basically having clarity edge to edge as well as the angular resolution. And they're really quite amazing, honestly. The big difference though, that's gonna make a lot of people happy, and people complain about the Reverb G1 from a consumer gaming perspective, is that we had the wide sweet spot so that everyone could get a really comfortable experience very quickly. But it meant that if you had an IPD outside the average, you may not get the optimal viewing experience because your eyes wouldn't be centered with the optics. So we've implanted mechanical IPD adjustment from 60 to 68 millimeters so that your eyes are always centered with the optics. You're getting the correct field of view, the correct clarity across the entire lens, no matter what size or shape your face is. So that's really exciting. So that's the visuals. And oh, by the way, everyone asks, we're still at 90 Hertz. That's kind of the classic VR refresh rate is 90 Hertz. And that's where we'll still be. When you go along over to audio, we have literally, or almost literally, stripped off the Valve Index headphones. So if you try a Valve Index, they have the BMR drivers that sit about 10 millimeters off your ear. So if something's touching your ear, you're really comfy, but also they have amazing frequency response from the bass all the way to the highs, so that you can really locate things in 3D around where you are. So if you tried the Index and you said, hey, these are amazing speakers, well, you're gonna get that same exact experience here, which is great. And then of course, since we are focusing a bit more on consumer gaming, you want to make sure you've got great controller tracking. And so this is where Microsoft has worked with us and previous Windows Mixed Reality headsets had two cameras for tracking. So you mostly see things out in front of you. Now we also have an extra camera on each side for four total cameras. It more than doubles the actual controller tracking volume that you can see. which is great. So, for me personally, I've been playing a lot of Half-Life Alyx and with the Reverb G1, I kind of throw the grenades or objects in it like a discus or granny style because I need to keep my hand in front of the tracking cameras. But obviously, I get prototypes and now I'm playing Half-Life Alyx with Reverb G2 and with the side cameras now, I can do, you know, the full-on baseball pitcher throw, very natural, much more natural way to interact with And along with that, we have brand new controllers, much more ergonomic, and we also changed the button layout to be more industry standard. So the controllers on G1 have a thumbstick and then a trackpad. Here we've gotten rid of the trackpad and just had A, B, and X, Y buttons like you're used to on a game controller. another VR headset. And actually these are for users who are coming from a different headset or developers who want to target all headsets with their content, not to have to make a unique control input design for these Windows Mixed Reality controllers. So really excited about that. And then we're gonna get to ergonomics and comfort. And this is where I bring up manual IPD again, because it's not just about how it's comfortable on your head, the headset, but how comfortable your eyes are for a long session in VR. and making sure that the actual viewport of the rendered content, you know, what its IPD thinks it's rendering content that matches yours, is really important for that long-term comfort over hours to make sure your eyes feel happy when you get out of that VR headset. So we find that manual IPD adjusts not only does it give you better clarity by setting your eyes in the optics, but also just makes you a lot more comfortable over your session. Additionally, we were very lightweight with G1 and with G2, we've doubled the size of the actual padding that goes on your face, which halves the pressure abouts. Really great, really comfy. The head pad is now magnetically attached so you can just take off the face mask really quickly. And for cleanability, since obviously everyone's got to talk about cleanability in this day and age, we've removed all the decorative fabric we had on the G1 so you can clean the device more easily. And then we have optional accessories you can buy for wipeable face masks and rear head pads so that you can just kind of clean the whole thing down when you're done with it if you want to give it to another user. Probably my favorite, well, not my favorite, but one of my secret ones is a feature I didn't know would be such a hit. And there's this guy named Scott on our team and he's really big on VR snacking, basically getting in and out of VR very quickly. And he was really a big proponent of making sure that the head pad can rotate 90 degrees vertically. So you can just hold the front of the device and just put up to your face and off very quickly. Honestly, I wasn't so sure. This is why we have a team working on this. because once we received it, it's amazing. You can get into VR and out very quickly without the head pad getting in the way. So if you want to check something before you get in there into your session, good to go. Or if you're a glasses wearer, like I am, you just shove the front on very easily and then rotate the head pan back over your head.
[00:09:47.147] Joanna Popper: I think this is an example of really learning from our user base too, where our first generation headset, the Windows Mixed Reality, did have a flip up, and then we removed that in the second generation and then brought some elements of it back. A little bit by Popular Demand, a little bit by Scott Demand.
[00:10:02.365] Kent Bye: And as a developer, you could be wearing it and then maybe flip it up and then do some voting and flip it down. Or is it more like, cause your use case is a little bit different from what I imagine.
[00:10:11.667] John Ludwig: It's a, yeah. So it's more like, so it flips up vertically so I can just shove it on my face very quickly and easily. And then we actually have elastic built into the sideband. So if you want to just have a way to, it's more like a pair of ski goggles. You can pull it away from your face an inch or two, put up on your forehead, like you would a pair of ski goggles. That's where the quick in and out without moving from your face, your head.
[00:10:32.452] Kent Bye: Okay. So it's more of putting it up to your face rather than wearing it and flipping it up, which I think was maybe the first generation. Okay. So for people that are just trying to get a quick peek. Totally. Totally.
[00:10:42.836] John Ludwig: Um, cable, everyone always asks about cable. We are still a tethered device. So we still tethered to a windows PC. We have a six meter long cable. It's still replaceable. It connects directly into the headset. We also had kind of a thick double barrel cable on our first generation that takes you out of the immersiveness when there's a cable, it's not very bendy coming down from you. So this is a single barrel, thin and light, much nicer. We are still a Windows Mixed Reality based headset. However, obviously with Valve jumping in and putting their names behind this, they've been working really hard with Microsoft to make sure that the SteamVR experience on this headset is optimal and almost native. So, you know, most people's content these days is based in SteamVR. And so this way, if you've been using the portal recently, they did a bunch of updates for around the Half-Life Alyx launch for Windows Mixed Reality users, and they're continuing to do that to make sure the experience is awesome for everyone. That's kind of the spec dump that I just unleashed.
[00:11:41.363] Kent Bye: Yeah, I wanted to just hop in because, well, it's fascinating that Valve is collaborating with both HP and Microsoft. Mostly because, you know, when I think about Windows Mixed Reality, I think of it as more of like these enterprise headsets, but they weren't necessarily as good for gaming for, you know, when I did the Beat Saber demo back at VRLA when Beat Saber was coming out that. the tracking wasn't as good and to see valve come along and want to get it to that level that it's good enough for gaming i would imagine then from after that then it's pretty much able to do anything else that you would want it to do for all the other enterprise applications that gaming bar is actually a pretty high bar that you want to be able to actually have it so that the valve developers to be happy with so for me that's a huge sign that there's going to be an overall level of quality that is going to meet the bare minimum for the gamers, but also be for the enterprise. And so I guess, I mean, that's a question is like, is this intended for the enterprise still? Is this also intended for like the high end gamers or like you're trying to achieve both and serve the needs of the gamers to be able to serve more needs of enterprise.
[00:12:44.593] John Ludwig: Yeah, you know, people just want to have a great immersive experience that's not broken. Whether you're commercial or you're a consumer-customer, a lot of times the needs aren't that hugely different. So this one's targeted to both commercial and consumer. The big difference, though, is obviously with Valve coming on board, we put a lot more rigor into making sure those consumer activities were up to that bar, especially around the tracking, making sure with the four-camera tracking. So, yeah, commercial customers are getting a big bonus here, essentially, from this experience bar we set to make sure that things like Beat Saber and Half-Life Alyx are super awesome.
[00:13:19.171] Kent Bye: Yeah, and Joanna, I didn't know if you wanted to jump in and add anything.
[00:13:22.053] Joanna Popper: Yeah, well, on that point, I think it's an important point that you raise. Part of it that's really interesting is to hear from different parts of the customer base, you know, and our partners, what they want. And, you know, we're looking at it as, you know, what is VR enabling? And so, With this headset, VR will enable us to game, to learn, to collaborate, connect, and to create. And so all of the specs that John just talked about really tick off different boxes on why these specs really make sense around gaming, why the resolution is great for learning. And whether it's education or it's enterprise training where you may be actually reading text on screen, and having that really immersive experience or having that memory be lodged from that experience to help you have that higher retention to remember what to do when you're on the job floor or you're out there on the field. And so that's what we've seen. As our third iteration of a headset, we've worked so closely with our partners all around the world to get iterative feedback. And so the way I would describe this is we took what was the best about reverb generation one, you know, and the things that people really, really resonated for people about reverb generation one was one high resolution, you know, two X pretty much most of their headsets, you know, highest resolution among all leading headsets. And so we brought that back and made it even better with the very much improved panels working together with valve and design by valve. You know, people were really excited about how easy working with inside out tracking was. And obviously bring that back, but very much improved upon it by having now four cameras instead of two cameras, you know, very much improving the tracking. And then that connection with Valve working directly with Microsoft, directly with us, all three of us together to continue to improve the overall tracking, particularly on the Microsoft side. So if you like, for example, if you, for example, if you looked at a Reddit article or, you know, a Reddit feed of what do people really like and where do they want to see improvements? You can see that they really like the resolution, that sweet spot. They really liked the inside-out tracking. They wanted improvements on controllers. They wanted improvements on the cables. They wanted some improvements on the mirror. Some people wanted improvements on the tracking, for sure. And then they wanted improvements on that connection between SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality. And so if you look at that list, you can go check, check, check, check, check. We basically improved upon everything that people were asking us to improve upon.
[00:15:49.097] Kent Bye: And, uh, we haven't talked about it yet, but I'm, I'm curious, what's the price and when's it coming out?
[00:15:53.900] Joanna Popper: So the, um, pre-order and the announcement is May 28th, Thursday, May 28th. Pre-orders will start on that date in North America and pre-orders in other regions will be rolling out in June and through July. And it will be shipping in the fall. Okay. And price, we will send you an update later.
[00:16:15.743] Kent Bye: OK, so, you know, when I saw this collaboration between Valve, Microsoft, HP, obviously there's questions around, OK, is it compatible with a lighthouse? It sounds like it's going to be using the inside out tracking from Microsoft and not necessarily have a Vive or an index. Then you might have all that set up already, like I do in my VR room, but you're not going to be using that to any degree. Is that true or not?
[00:16:40.914] John Ludwig: No, that's totally correct. So this uses the basic Windows Mixed Reality tracking up to four cameras now from two before. It does not use the base stations. So if you've got a Vive or an Index, it won't use those. It doesn't need those. All this one needs, no setup. You just plug in. From the cable display port and then USB and you are off to the races so no need to do extra step in your room it's easier to take around you don't carry base stations with you like a tripod so service experience a lot easier.
[00:17:12.460] Kent Bye: If you do have SteamVR integration, like I have some Index controllers, can I use any SteamVR controller? Because it has SteamVR integration, can I use other controllers with the HP Reverb G2?
[00:17:25.634] John Ludwig: It is technically possible in a hacky way, but no. No normal person's going to do that. You can technically do it if you want to get weird, but no, you'll just end up using the Reverb G2 controllers. That's the only ones compatible in the Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem with the Reverb G2. The new controllers do work with older Windows Mixed Reality headsets, so if you do have, say, like the Reverb G1, or a Samsung Odyssey, or one of the first generation Mixed Reality devices, and you want a controller upgrade, you can purchase these controllers and they'll work with those.
[00:17:55.066] Kent Bye: Okay. Yeah. There's just been a lot of people doing full body tracking. And so I'm imagining that because you're not having tracking on the head, it's difficult to have tracking on the hands. So if you want to do full body tracking with those trackers, it doesn't sound like it's an easy thing to do.
[00:18:11.277] John Ludwig: No, not an easy thing to do for a home customer. I think for LB does some fancy stuff for location-based entertainment to get all work, which Joanna, if you want to know more about location-based entertainment, she's the one to ask. Okay. For your home user, yeah, you'll use the Windows with Strata controllers that we're launching to use the Reverb G2 controllers with this headset.
[00:18:30.623] Kent Bye: Well, I mean, that's a good segue into LBE because with COVID-19 and this global pandemic, it seems like we're not going to be seeing very much location-based entertainment until at least there's a vaccine that's given to everyone in the world, which may be a number of years. So what is happening with the LBE market now, Joanna? From your take though, from HP's perspective, like what's the state of the union when it comes to LBEs?
[00:18:56.692] Joanna Popper: Yeah, it's a great question. I mean, certainly a tough time. The majority of them are temporarily closed right now, but we are starting to see signs of light. I mean, there are some of our partners at Zero Latency have already reopened some of their locations. They have a location open in the Netherlands. They're opening a couple in the U.S. already. They're actually, this week, they'll have also just released a new game. So they brought a lot of really interesting elements to it. They actually have paying some of the content such that you're not close to people in the game. So mirroring some level of physical distancing in the real world into that virtual world. But I think what our partners at Dreamscape are reopening their Dubai location, it really goes, it's a case-by-case situation where it depends on the regulations and the advice of the municipalities and governments about whether or not people are opening. So that's kind of the status of, you know, are people reopening? When are they reopening? The things that the companies are all thinking about, of course, is how do people come back? When do they come back? What's the, you know, what's the capacity utilization? How are they looking at hygiene and how are they communicating hygiene to the customers? So that's a very important topic. They've all been very, very highly focused on, you know, HelloGate and many of the other companies sent out, you know, guidelines and guidance on hygiene. really soon after we've been in the States. So, I think there's a lot TBD, a lot TBD in terms of how the companies respond and when they'll come back. And what we also have seen is that all the companies are kind of taking a beat, taking a moment to look at what future are they building for their companies and how are they continuing to go forward.
[00:20:41.920] Kent Bye: So this is a really fascinating pivot, I'd say, for the enterprise into, like, high-end gaming. And, you know, for me, the best VR HMD that's out there right now, at least for gaming, is the Index, which is also from Valve. So as people are looking at either going with the Index or going with the HTP Reverb G2, how do you differentiate the difference between these two, especially since Valve is involved with both of them? But what's the difference between them?
[00:21:09.210] John Ludwig: So firstly, there's the inside out versus outside in tracking, right? Base stations are a hassle for a lot of people to set up. And so Val was really looking for a way to make sure that there's an inside out track solution for customers if they want one in the market that they're behind in getting their technology into with their audio and optics. Once we tell you the price point, you'll get another data point on why someone might choose our headset over the Index. But also on the experience side, you're getting a lot of what you get with the Index in this headset, but at a much higher resolution. So you're getting Valve-designed optics, but put on 2160x2160 instead of 1600x1440 per eye. Now with the Index, you get more field of view. They have larger panels with larger lenses in there. So, you know, there's going to be a lot of decision points for a customer, right? Do you want the higher resolution or do you want the higher FOV? How big is your wallet feeling that day? Do you want the complication of setting up SteamVR base stations or do you just want to plug and play? There's going to be a reason for customers to buy one or the other. We don't expect the index to disappear. We don't expect the index to eat all of our lunch either. Right now, today, there's a lot of people who want a lot of different things in VR and you got to decide your priorities and customers will vote.
[00:22:22.927] Joanna Popper: Yeah. And also whether or not you're using your headset in one place or you move around, you know, it's easier to do inside out tracking if you take your headset different places with you.
[00:22:35.040] Kent Bye: Cool. So I remember when I first tried the Windows Mixed Reality, you know, headsets, just from the perception as a VR journalist, they were always kind of at the bottom tier. And I know that there's been this move up into the enterprise that you've made, but my recollection of playing it at VRLA was playing Beat Saber. And it was very clear to how the tracking wasn't as good to be able to live up to like Expert or Expert Plus. which is where I was playing at, at the VRLA, I was like, well, these controllers aren't actually keeping up with that. And so I'm wondering how you quantify stuff like that. If Beat Saber becomes a type of metric to be able to compare something like, you know, the external lighthouse controllers from Valve Index, that seems to be a baseline, or if there's ways for you to quantify the quality of tracking to be able to meet the threshold standards that a gaming company like Valve might have, like, how do you make sense of that?
[00:23:28.273] John Ludwig: Yeah, so I mean, there's a couple ways to measure it, right? You can measure latency when it's in the field of view of the cameras, you can measure the actual true distance versus what the cameras are measuring. So for instance, a lot of times the way you measure it is you set up a vibe tracker on top of the wand, right? And then you compare what the SteamVR tracking is putting out from the base stations versus what your camera base tracking is putting out and see if there's a delta at all. The biggest problem for like Beat Saber with previous mixed reality headsets was when the controllers are in your field of view, the tracking is awesome. When the controllers leave it, right, then there's a complicated set of equations that are just using only the IMU data at that point, right? And they're kind of doing their best job to keep up with your motion. But if you do a motion didn't expect, or you do kind of a non-standard motion, it couldn't keep up with only IMU data. So then as soon as you got back into the field of view, it would pop your controller back to the right place. And that's what a lot of people would notice is they kind of swung their controller from outside of the tracking camera's field of view into their field of view, there would be a little pop in as it finally got the correct tracking. So as long as everything's in the field view of the cameras, totally awesome tracking, meets great experience expectations for customers. So the solution here then was less how do we improve the actual camera tracking, which Microsoft is always improving their hours and working on, but how do we get a wider field of view so that your controllers don't leave the camera field of view as often as they did before. And so that ends up being, you overlay all the field of view of the cameras into kind of a big sphere around a person. You see, hey, where are the gaps? Are we meeting them? And then you basically put people into Beat Saber and see what happens. And do a bunch of testing. I think the thing we've really found with VR is it's a very iterative process, whether it comes to ergonomics, whether it comes to tracking. You just got to build it, try it, test it, and then build it again. And that's been one of the fun parts working with Microsoft and Valve is that all three companies are very iterative on this and getting now prototypes not just into HP and Microsoft hands but also into Valve hands just gets that extra level of polish on all this iterative design work we've been doing.
[00:25:31.677] Kent Bye: Yeah, I love that. Beat Saber has become like the de facto, like standard qualitative experiential standard that, you know, if you're able to meet that, that helped the quest to be able to develop that headset, but also all of the headsets.
[00:25:42.600] John Ludwig: So I think we like, we like beats there. We also like a space pirate trainer. Cause then you end up holding your shield in weird places to block, you know, rays are coming at you. So I think, you know, those form the core of put people in it and see what happens. Nice.
[00:25:57.577] Kent Bye: Cool. Well, just to kind of wrap things up here, I was wondering if you could each share with me what you think the ultimate potential of virtual or augmented reality might be and what you think it might be able to enable.
[00:26:09.665] John Ludwig: Joanna warned me that this question always gets asked. No, um, you know, I'm a huge gamer, so I, I'm super excited about where VR is going in gaming. But for me, what gets me up in the morning to go solve tough problems in VR and keep working hard is the opportunity to improve learning for everyone around the world. Today, if you don't have access to go get training for something, you want to go be a mechanic. You want to go be an electrician, right? You gotta go take a course, get face-to-face contact, hands-on training, which is expensive, time consuming, and difficult for a lot of people. So for me, what gets me excited about VR and up in the morning is the ability to go have the wide availability for hands-on training and learning anywhere in the world, whenever you want, whatever you want to learn, add skills, improve your life through that. And that's where I see VR making a big change in the world in the next couple of decades.
[00:27:03.323] Joanna Popper: For me, there's two main things. One is that I believe in the power of virtual reality to enable us to be the best versions of ourselves. So John gave an example around training. The retention that we get when we learn something in VR or we train in something in VR is so much higher than any other method. The way that we can create products, do design pipeline reviews in virtual reality, provides so much more efficiency, productivity, and ROI that it enables ourselves and our businesses to be the best versions. So the way that we're able to connect, you and I hung out this morning and yesterday morning. connecting around the dev days, even though we're 3000 miles apart from each other. And so we're able to connect and be with people and experience them even when apart. So one part that really inspires me about VR is the ability to just allow us to tap into a best version of ourselves. The other part that is incredibly inspiring to me, and one of the main reasons that I work in this field, is that I believe that this is the future of computing. And When I look at computing and I look at what's been built in the past, most of what's been built in the past was built by a specific demographic. And where we are today in the world, I see that it's so important to have, as we're building the future of computing, it's incredibly important to have a diverse and inclusive and a representative group of people building products, telling stories, living their experience, that we create a future of computing that works for everybody.
[00:28:40.972] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left and said that you'd like to say to the wider immersive community?
[00:28:47.316] Joanna Popper: Thank you, Kent, for everything you do to educate people, to connect people, to really shine a light on all the amazing work that so many amazing people are doing in this community. And just really glad to be here with you. We're super, super excited about all the work that happened at HP and Microsoft and Valve and excited for the world to experience this next generation headset, the HP Reverb Generation 2. And thank you for bringing us on and thank you for all the amazing work you do.
[00:29:16.010] Kent Bye: John, if you know if you had anything else that you wanted to say?
[00:29:18.311] John Ludwig: No, I think that was fabulous.
[00:29:21.318] Kent Bye: Okay, awesome. Well, thank you both for joining me today on the podcast. I hope to try it out at some point. We don't have VR expos anymore, at least for the foreseeable future. But yeah, so looking forward to getting my hands on it and trying it out. But also, yeah, this collaboration between Valve, Microsoft, and HP honestly is one of the more intriguing things that I've seen in my history of covering the VR space over the last Six years. So I'm just excited to see this type of cooperation amongst these big players in the, in the field to be able to create something that's larger than each of them and to be able to create something that's going to serve the overall VR industry. So I'm just really excited and intrigued to see more of this type of cooperation.
[00:30:02.361] Joanna Popper: So, yeah, we believe strongly in the power of collaboration. Right. So we're really excited about it. And yeah, that's, that's the other really interesting thing to be launching a product during this time period. Right. You know, We've got we're moving from what we would say is basically a ground game where we would go to a lot of different events We would have probably come and met you live and put you in a headset. We would have put in Lots of our industry partners lots of press lots of influencers, you know thousands of people at different events into a headset and so we're very much moving from a ground game in terms of a launch and an announcement to a a virtual game where, so we're announcing a virtual events. We'll be doing events with alt space. We'll figure out a way to make sure that we get you into the headset as soon as possible.
[00:30:48.245] Kent Bye: Doing, I have to say going to different virtual conferences, the one thing that you can't do, you can't get a real virtual demo of the HP Reverb G2 through the lens of an index or any other headset. So, uh, yeah, but you're, you're going to be doing different events. What's going to happen at the virtual events then?
[00:31:05.245] Joanna Popper: Yes, so we're going to be doing an announcement at Augmented World Expo. We have a keynote on Thursday morning, so 9.20 a.m. keynote at Augmented World Expo. We're going to do a fun Instagram Live with G-Munk, who's a really big creator and he's a Z by HP ambassador. So we're going to do an Instagram Live with him. So A-W-E, tapping into the real VR community on the Instagram Live, tapping into the creator community, And then at four o'clock on Thursday, May 28th, we're going to have a special event in AltSpace with our partner, Microsoft. And so we'll have Alex Kipman, who did the fireside chat in the Microsoft Dev Days. We'll have him. John and I will be there along with our boss, Spike. And so we'll have a whole AltSpace community event. You're very invited. It's 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 28th. So we have those are a bunch of events. And then we'll participate in VRARA. some announcements there, as well as a slew of other events. So that's in terms of getting the word out, getting people excited, getting the buzz going, and getting people to click on through to pre-order so that they can have the headset shipped to them in the fall and be some of the first people to get a chance to experience everything, all the wonder that we've been talking about. And as far as getting you into the headset, I'm sure we'll work out a way to get your physical head into a physical headset ahead of the launch. So we'll circle back with you on that. We won't assume that that will be all.
[00:32:37.785] Kent Bye: Well, I know that the, the reputation of valve and all the stuff that they've done, they have a certain bar that people often are just an insta buy without too much further exploration. So I know that's going to be helping. Um, but also, yeah, just interesting to see. In this new era, like how everybody has to adapt to a certain extent. So, um, yeah, happy to see the exploration of all these different virtual technologies and whatnot. So, yeah, we are too.
[00:33:02.418] Joanna Popper: I mean, and it's, it was exciting for us to take on the challenge of how do we launch something? How do we. How do we make everyone aware of it in this current age? And so for us, you know, to do our first virtual reality product launch in alt space, it's a little bit of, you know, drink our own champagne, right? We're not just talking about VR, but we're actually gonna do a launch event in alt space as well as some of the other events.
[00:33:25.722] Kent Bye: Very cool. I saw that you had a space and VR chats, uh, virtual market or the virtual market for there's a whole HP area. So I'm excited to see the future of experiential marketing as well. So I know that HP is ahead of the curve of a lot of companies. Uh, and I, I hope to see maybe some new worlds in alt space, but in the future, different ways of what's it mean to create entire worlds, uh, for experiential marketing. So I know that's for me as a, someone who's attended a lot of conferences, that's a need that I see is. Companies like HPE supporting the type of experiential marketing that can happen within virtual world. So I'm, I'm personally excited to see where that goes as well.
[00:34:01.651] Joanna Popper: Yeah, I am too. I think, you know, it's still very early days for VR collaboration. That's a heavy focus for us. We've held a couple of, you know, all day webinars with 30 different companies who came in and talked to the world about what their virtual collaboration and shared experience platforms are. everything from AEC to training, to vocational tech training, to meetings, to collaboration, to product design, to engineering. And so there's so many ones that tap into Zoom calls, like our friends at Faces who pivoted from LBE. And so there's a lot of really exciting things happening in this area right now. And so I think what's really exciting too is how we're all figuring out to not just take what works in the physical world and take it to the virtual world, but what is endemic for the virtual world and what are those use cases that make the most sense and where you can really tap in and create something amazing. On our team, for example, we've been really using VR at an accelerated rate. We always did, and our company, we always did printer technician training, we've done trials training in VR. And now we're doing staff meetings in VR. We're doing presentations in VR. We're doing product design reviews from our IT team, looking at that in VR. But we've, you know, we've even had, because we no longer have hallways and coffees and lunches, we do virtual water cooler. And so bring people together to play basketball and to have dodgeball so that they have that camaraderie. We even had one of our employees retirement parties in VR. And, you know, sometimes we get together in alt space and fly, which, you know, even when we're together in the real world, we can't fly. So that, so that's a use case where VR, you know, gives you an additional bonus.
[00:35:44.287] Kent Bye: Yeah. So truly eating your own dog food in that sense. And that's also exciting to hear that as well.
[00:35:49.789] Joanna Popper: So we call it drink our own champagne because we prefer champagne to dog food, but yes, it's the same.
[00:35:54.070] Kent Bye: That makes sense. Okay. Well, well, John and Joanna, I just wanted to thank you again for joining me on the podcast today. So thank you. Thank you, Ken. Thanks for having us. So that was Joanna Popper. She's working on go to market for HP's VR headsets, as well as location based entertainment, as well as John Legwig. He's the lead product manager for VR at HP. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, yeah, this collaboration between Valve, Microsoft, and HP is really fascinating and intriguing. I love the story of how John said, you know, when Valve comes to you and says that they want to collaborate and give you technology, then you say yes. And so just seeing how the HP Reverb G1 had a resolution of pixels per eye of 2160 by 2160, that's the highest from all the other headsets that are out there. at least not ultra-wide field of view, but I really think there's a good trade-off for having the regular size with that high density of pixels. Both the Valve Index as well as Oculus Quest each have 1440x1600 pixels per eye. The comfort is a lot different I'd say between the Index versus the Quest. And the Quest has OLED, and the Valve Index has LCD, and it sounds like the HP Reverb G2 is also going to have LCD. I think for a while people were really skeptical about whether or not the LCD screens were going to have low enough persistence to be comfortable, but I've actually found that the Valve Index is totally fine, so I trust that if they're going to be collaborating with Valve and having their engineers take a look at it, it sounds like they've been able to actually even lower the persistence of some of the LCD screens as well. And that the audio from the Valve Index is amazing. I really love it. The only thing is, is that if you are using that headset with other people around, like say in a more enterprise environment, then you can't hear it. So it's good if you're in your own room and for at home consumer use, but if everybody's going to be working from home anyway, then what's the difference between whether or not you're going to be isolated in your home versus at work. But, you know, it's just something to consider if people don't have their own isolated room, that there will be audio that you will be able to hear. The refresh rate of 90Hz, again, the price of $599. Pre-orders are open today. I did get a chance to try out the HP Reverb G1, and happy to hear that they are doing different improvements with IPD as well as with better optics, collaboration with Valve. It does sound like that it is also going to be still using the Microsoft Mixed Reality Insight Out controllers. In terms of ease of use of getting it set up, that sounds like that's going to be a big difference between the Index, and plus it's like $400 cheaper than the Index as well, so that's going to be a big difference for other folks. And if it's a higher resolution, then it could be the type of thing that people want to use it. I love the lighthouse accuracy, but at the same time, it is a bit of a pain to get set up initially. And if you're going to be moving around and taking it to different places, then that's not very portable. So having something that's inside out tracking, I think is going to be a lot better. So I'm excited because I think that the valve engineers and the developers there saw an opportunity to be able to make a real competitor for like a middle tier option for PC VR. Obviously, there's still the Valve Index that they're working on, but just that open collaborative ecosystem approach to be able to have other people that have other headsets that are out there. I think the more diversity and more competition that's out there is going to push the entire VR industry forward. Just happy to see that there's another option that's out there. And I guess the other point is just the interesting how, in the time of COVID-19, what's it mean to launch a virtual product, especially a product that Normally you'd want to have a ground game where you have people be able to try it out and having to pivot over to launching this virtually. And then at some point reaching out to all the different people who are reviewing and giving their insights as to whether or not, you know, they've been able to actually pull it off. The Windows Mixed Reality has had not the greatest reputation of VR headsets. Steam actually does a number of different surveys to be able to see like what type of headsets people are actually using on SteamVR and Ben Lang and the Road to VR back on April 7th, 2020 published some of the latest analysis of the data that were released by Steam and he says that the Valve Index surpassed all the Windows Mixed Reality on Steam where Valve Index has about 10.94% versus 8.28% for all Windows Mixed Reality headsets. The Oculus Quest, I guess, via the Link, surpassed the Vive Cosmos, 2.89% versus 1.25%. Oculus Rift S is still the most popular headset in use on Steam, surpassing the original HTC Vive from 27.05% for the Oculus Rift S and 26.67% for the HTC Vive. And if you look at all of the Oculus headsets between the Rift, Rift S, and Oculus Quest via the Link, then it's around 45.5%. So the Oculus Rift S doesn't have an IPD adjustment, they're just using a single LCD panel with a resolution of 2560x1440. And the refresh rate is only like 80Hz for the Rift S. And the price on that is around $399, so it is a couple hundred dollars cheaper than what the HP Reverb G2 is gonna be, but... Yeah, if people want those different trade-offs, if they want high resolution and the audio for the Valve is amazing. So yeah, I think the consumers will have just like more options. And I think that the Windows Mixed Reality has been around 8% or so. And so overall in ecosystem, I expect that, you know, with this launch, it's going to, especially when it comes to gaming, have a lot more folks that are actually using it for gaming, especially if the tracking is able to hold up with the most intense games from Beat Saber or, you know, being able to play something like Half-Life Alyx. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.