Zero Latency, creator of a leading VR attraction platform, is now deploying their ‘gen 2’ VR hardware. The revamp includes newer HP VR backpacks, Windows VR headsets, and Windows VR peripheral tracking for a more modern VR experience that’s easier to set up & operate, and offers an improved player experience, the company says.
Zero Latency has been a player in the out-of-home VR space since 2013. The company has developed a VR attraction platform which brings together hardware and software to enable a 60 × 30 ft (18.3 × 9 m) ‘warehouse scale’ playspace which can be inhabited by up to eight players simultaneously.
With 26 locations around the globe, Zero Latency has until now been relying on (by now) relatively dated hardware, with the core of the VR experience coming from the OSVR HDK2 headset, along with an optical outside-in tracking and backpack VR system of Zero Latency’s design. While functional, this older hardware didn’t offer the low-latency tracking or sharper visuals available in more modern VR headsets.
Now the company is launching its ‘gen 2’ platform which comes with a hardware overhaul which Zero Latency says will not only offer a better player experience, but also make the VR attraction easier for operators to set up, run, and maintain.
Just about all of the old hardware—save for the company’s signature VR gun peripheral—has gone out the window; the gen 2 Zero Latency hardware platform consists of HP’s Windows VR headset, Windows VR tracking for the gun peripherals, and HP’s ‘Z’ VR backpack.
The move to Windows VR headsets and tracking means that the old outside-in system has been dropped as well. This time around, the inside-out tracking (requiring no external sensors or beacons) on each HP headset is used to determine each player’s location, which not only means improved tracking latency and precision compared to the old OSVR headsets, Zero Latency says, but also means less bulk and weight thanks to the removal of the extra hardware needed for the old tracking system.
To ensure robust tracking with the inside-out system, the company says that locations featuring the gen 2 hardware have specially designed playspaces which make it especially easy for the tracking system to detect (which probably means easily identifiable, high contrast patterns on the floors and walls). And though the environment’s visuals might be customized to aid the tracking, Zero Latency notes that relying on inside-out tracking means no external tracking equipment, making teardown easier if an operator wants to be able to flexibly use the space for other (non-VR) purposes.
The HP Windows VR headset’s inside-out tracking system is also used for tracking the Zero Latency VR guns, which now have one of the Windows VR controllers attached to each weapon. While the tracking ring on the Windows VR controller is seen by cameras on the headset to determine the weapon’s location, the weapon’s inputs are sent wirelessly to the host system to communicate trigger pulls and reloads. Although optical LED’s are used for controller tracking, Zero Latency says that there’s no issues with one headset’s cameras detecting another player’s weapon while in the same space.
Luckily, moving to the gen 2 platform doesn’t mean abandoning the company’s six bespoke games. All existing titles are forwards-compatible with gen 2, including Sol Raiders, the platform’s new PVP focused title, and Scarygirl, the platform’s first third-party title (announced just this week).
As for when you’ll be able to step into the Zero Latency gen 2 platform? The company says they’re now in the process of offering the platform to new operators, including an upgrade option for existing locations. The company expects that the first gen 2 systems will be installed soon at locations in Melbourne, Australia and Dallas, Texas, with more rolling out over time.
With the gen 2 platform, Zero Latency hopes to contribute to bringing VR further toward the mainstream. The company says that the new system has “a lot less moving parts […] an order of magnitude different,” than gen 1, and requires less up front cost and time, with stronger performance, reliability, and support thanks to the streamlined hardware. They believe this will improve the operator experience substantially, leading to increased ROI.
The company also says the system is now more flexible, and could easily support other Windows VR headsets, which makes future upgrades easy. We could perhaps see Zero Latency locations using HP’s upcoming high-res ‘Copper’ Windows VR headset.
The move to gen 2, which streamlines the platform by using fewer custom components than gen 1, pushes Zero Latency closer to their end game. “We don’t always want to be positioned as a hardware company, we’re an integrator […],” the company said; they’d like to spend less time making hardware solutions—as was necessary early on—and more time focusing on building out their platform and content offerings.
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