HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition Targets B2B, Includes Biometric Sensors
HP’s PC VR headsets, the Reverb G2 VR Headset was announced in May this year. The Reverb G2 was developed in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft to appeal to both businesses and consumers. HP is now targeting the B2B market with a new enterprise-focused PC VR headset- the HP Reverb G2 Omnicept which is an upgraded version of HP’s Reverb G2 hardware. The edition adds several biometric sensors that will make the Reverb G2 even more suited for B2B applications such as data analysis and employee training.
Rumors had begun swirling around August this year that HP was planning a B2B headset. It is now official. The HP Omnicept Edition is based on the HP Reverb G2 but it offers eye tracking and foveated rendering along with camera-based face-tracking and a heartbeat sensor. The Omnicept SDK which is included in the package leverages machine learning to analyze the biometric data gathered.
HP already has a great premium product in the Reverb G2 but the Omnicept Edition could be its bid to take on HTC’s Vive Pro Eye with its Tobii eye tracking sensors. The Omnicept features Tobii’s eye tracking and pupillometry sensors but it goes the extra mile by incorporating biometric sensors including a heart rate sensor and a facial tracking camera system. With the SDK, it also offers software support that will enable third-party developers to build apps using all its new sensors.
The sensors can be put into lots of invaluable enterprise uses. For example, businesses can leverage the eye and pupil sensors for tracking user focus and allowing for both attention analysis and foveated rendering. HP expects that its facial tracking system in the B2B headset will make it possible for VR users’ avatars to share their live facial expressions in user scenarios such as meetings and other social applications thereby reducing and possibly eliminating the typical stiffness associated with avatars.
Adding a heart rate sensor may seem like an overkill but HP has provided a compelling business training justification for the biometric data. For example, some developers are also building public speaking educational apps along with flight simulations for the Omnicept Edition headset that can assist users in managing and possibly reducing their heart rate-measured stresses in situations of cognitive load.
There are significant privacy implications involved in monitoring and gathering the biometric data from users and HP assures that it has designed the Omnicept Edition’s firmware that secures the data during capture and then shares it according to the GDPR requirements.
The partners and enterprises will only access the data in a de-identified, aggregated and secured form and the virtual reality headset will not store any data within itself. It isn’t clear the extent to which these measures will offer users privacy protection. However, in training and enterprise contexts, biometric data gathering tends to be less involving than in the broader consumer applications.
The Omnicept Edition’s specifications and hardware are largely the same as those of the Reverb G2 including its twin wireless controllers, Valve speakers and lenses and its 2,160 x 2.160 eye displays. However, the Omnicept has an improved headband that is designed with a ratcheting tightness knob along with the new sensors. Altogether, these should significantly cost more. HP is yet to announce the final pricing but it is likely the Omnicept Edition will sell at a premium, perhaps adding several hundred dollars on top of the $600 HP Reverb G2.
Omnicept Edition is specifically targeting enterprises that need biometric hardware. While HP has provided the option to purchase the headset outright, individual consumers won’t have much use for the biometric sensors without the supporting software. The Omnicept will also be SteamVR-compatible and will thus be able to run lots of software beyond simply the purpose-built training applications for enterprises.
The standard HP Reverb G2 headset is set to ship in October and consumers should begin receiving the new headsets from early to mid-November. The Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition is scheduled for release in spring next year.