Somnium Space has been busy! In a Medium post last October, as part of several announcements of investments in various XR technologies such as TESLASUIT and XTAL, they wrote:
We are extremely excited to share with all of you what we have been working on already for months — a Somnium Space VR headset. At Somnium we believe that users must have the right of choice. That VR hardware market should not consist of few big players producing headsets with closed eco systems thus creating silos and with full control over user experience and more importantly data. Moreover, as a decentralized and open Metaverse company we cannot allow Somnium Space to be dependent on hardware gatekeepers to be able to communicate and engage with our users. That is why, earlier this year we have taken a strategic decision to start working on our own VR headset.
Currently we are deep in the R&D phase, finalizing specifications and component details. Testing compatibility and preparing supply chain. In December 2021, during Somnium Connect physical and VR event we will release final specifications and more details about production and delivery timelines, prices and much more. As of now we can share few high-level teasers about headset:
– Standalone mode powered by Snapdragon XR2 chip
– Native PC VR mode
– Open, community driven software eco-system
– Modular design
We can not wait to share more information in December and work on this together with you — community and amazing partner companies for seamless integrations of hardware and software experiences.
On Dec. 22nd, 2021, Bobby Carleton of VRScout reported:
The headset, which [Somnium Space CEO Artur] Sychov refers to as the “Somnium VR Headset”, is packed with some killer specs and designed specifically for a VR audience that doesn’t want to be tied to a specific app store or be boxed into any sort of platform restrictions.
“We wanted to create a headset that you truly own. We didn’t want to lock you down into our ecosystem,” said Sychov. “We didn’t not want to allow you to do things with your own items. If you buy a VR headset from Somnium Space, you truly own it.”
According to Somnium, the headset features a modular design that allows you to easily customize your experience. You can also remove the sides and bottom of the headset to add custom 3D printed accessories (up to 55 lbs!), making it a truly customizable VR headset. “We really believe in modularity,” said Sychov, adding, “with access to the platform, you’ll be able to extend the life of the headset.”
Another cool feature is that Somnium’s VR headset is completely programmable, which means you can dive into the system to change the actions of the buttons and sensors in order to meet your custom needs.
Somnium Space, which is best known for its open social VR platform that integrates blockchain and cryptocurrency for true ownership of digital goods and virtual land, partnered with VRgineers (makers of the XTAL 3 headset) to develop their own hardware. Though not as beefy as VRgineers’ XTAL 3 headset, which is designed for enterprise use, Somnium Space looks to raise the bar for non-enterprise VR headset expectations.
Somnium Space hopes to deliver their branded virtual reality headset to consumers by the fourth quarter of 2022. These are very ambitious plans, and UploadVR‘s Jamie Felton notes:
These are ambitious plans for sure, and it’s worth remembering the difficulties many other small to medium-sized companies have faced bringing VR hardware to market. DecaGear recently drastically revised its plans for a $450 SteamVR headset to $700, citing the realities of competing with Meta. Plus there are many vital elements of Somnium’s plans that still sound up in the air, like a reference to “researching Micro OLED displays” which would surely drastically change the shape and form of the product.
As far as I am aware, Somnium Space is the first social VR platform (besides Meta) to offer a branded VR headset. I wish Artur Sychov and his team every success in their gutsy endeavour!