Pimax Releases Firmware Update for Crystal: Eye Tracking and Standalone Mode Now Enabled
Pimax, the China-based startup known for its innovative VR headsets, has released a firmware update for its latest headset, Crystal, enabling two highly anticipated features: eye tracking and standalone mode. This update comes after a delay of more than six months since the headset was initially launched in May.
Crystal: A Departure from Pimax’s Signature VR Headsets
Crystal, priced at $1600, takes a departure from Pimax’s previous ultra-wide field of view headsets. Instead, it focuses on wireless capability and maximizing angular resolution. The headset features impressive 2880×2880 QD-LCD panels with Mini LED backlighting, offering contrast levels close to OLED. However, there may be some tradeoff in terms of blooming, as highlighted by Neowin.
Eye Tracking Unleashes New Possibilities
Pimax Crystal’s eye tracking feature is powered by Tobii, a Swedish company known for its expertise in the field. This technology uses 120Hz infrared cameras within the headset to track the user’s eye movement.
The eye tracking feature can drive your avatar’s eyes in popular VR applications like VRChat, enhancing the level of immersion. Additionally, it automatically adjusts the position of the headset’s lenses to match the movement of your eyes, providing a more natural visual experience. Moreover, it enables foveated rendering.
But what exactly is foveated rendering? It’s a clever technique where only the portion of the display that your eyes are focused on is rendered at full resolution. This approach saves GPU resources by rendering the rest of the image at a lower resolution. These resources can then be utilized to improve performance, increase the foveal rendering resolution, or enhance graphics settings. The technique is based on our eyes’ natural tendency to see in high resolution only within the center of the fovea.
Pimax claims that its Pimax Client software can enable foveated rendering in almost any SteamVR game, providing a significant performance boost. This sets it apart from other VR headsets like PlayStation VR2 and Quest Pro, where foveated rendering needs to be implemented by each individual app’s developer. Pimax asserts that the performance benefit can range from 15% to 40%, depending on the game.
Standalone Mode: No PC Needed
Pimax Crystal is primarily marketed as a wireless PC VR headset. However, the company promised to deliver its first fully standalone mode headset, allowing users to access content from a Pimax Store. With the latest firmware update, this standalone mode now enters the public beta phase.
Crystal utilizes the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 processor, which is also found in popular headsets like Quest 2 and Pico 4. While the current lineup of standalone apps offered on the Pimax Store may not come close to the breadth of content available on Meta Quest and Pico, Pimax hopes to attract developers of more significant titles to port their content to Crystal in the future.
The current list of available apps on the Pimax Store includes Whirligig VR Media Player, X-Fitness, Pierhead Arcade 2, Labyrinth Trap VR, Z Show, Voxel Fly, Frog & Froggie, and OpenBrush.
Pimax has also announced that Hitstream, David Slade Mysteries: Case Files, and First Person Tennis will be coming soon to the standalone mode.
Exciting Updates Await Pimax Crystal Users
With the recent firmware update, Pimax Crystal users will now be able to enjoy the benefits of eye tracking and the flexibility of standalone mode. The eye tracking feature adds a new level of immersion and interaction in VR experiences, while the standalone mode frees users from the constraints of a PC. As Pimax continues to deliver updates and expand its content offerings, Crystal has the potential to become a formidable competitor in the VR market.