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Totem Is the New Virtual Reality Headset on the Block



/ 2 years ago

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Move over Oculus Rift, there is a new contender on the market. Well it isn’t actually on the market yet, but the Kickstarter for it has been launched, and is off to a very good start. The Totem is a Virtual Reality headset with features that haven’t been seen like this before. It connects to any HDMI source, may it be computer, console, Blu-ray, tablet, etc., that can play Side-by-Side (SbS) 3D video or games.

The totem has cameras and accelerometers directly in the device itself to detect motion, rather than relying on a stationary camera somewhere. This method allows for much more freedom of movement, and this is further aided by the pass-through support. You can switch between real-world and gaming with the touch of a button, no need to take off the headset just cause you need to type something.

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“In VR, performance is important so every millisecond counts. Totem’s low latency means no lag between movements and the display. With our real-time secret sauce hardware acceleration, we compensate distortion, right inside the head-mounted display, to give you a faster, more natural virtual reality experience.”

One of the main concepts behind the Totem is “let the Totem do the work, not the computer”. The device has enough horsepower under the hood to perform a lot of the tasks ahead of sending them to the system, and it is aided further by a clever software. This doesn’t just take the load off the device it is connected to, in most cases the device would never recognize your movement and actions as anything else then what it would get from its native controller.

The makers behind the Totem also wanted to spice up the sound and have added realistic audio with binaural surround sound. When you’re locked that closely into a virtual environment, sound has a big impact and that is why they’re paying special attention to this part. By converting surround sound to stereo while still keeping the spatial awareness, also called binaural HRTF, it’s easy to pinpoint where any sound is coming from. They have also partnered with Sonomax to offer a pledge that includes specially designed “eers” custom-fit stereo lightweight-earbuds. They offer excellent frequency response and no distortion on deep bass sounds. The “do-it-yourself” eers will mould to fit your specific ear-canal after a short time of wearing, creating an acoustic seal for an overall better sound.

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The next thing they wanted to improve over current models of VR headsets was the lenses. The Totem is built with lenses that have individual focus for each eye, allowing you to wear it without the use of normal glasses, if you use glasses that is. The lenses work well for both short and long-sighted people, so you don’t need to worry about your glasses being squashed against your face and VR headset. It should however still have enough room in the foam opening to allow you to wear your glasses, if you prefer to do so.

The lenses are oversized for clearer, crisp beautiful 1080p resolution everywhere. This is especially important for heads-up displays (HUD) in games. Furthermore, the use of a RGB stripe panel instead of a pentile panel will give the users less screen door effect. Finally, augmented reality is a real possibility with the pass through video capabilities and built in position tracking. Turn the real-world into your gaming grounds.

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At the time of writing, the project has already got $99,129 CAD in pledges, out of their goal of $350,000. With 28 days to go, I’m sure they won’t have any problem achieving that goal. The early bird specials are gone, but there’s still a few discounted Totem sets left for $495 CAD plus shipping and handling. Once that is sold out it will cost $545 CAD to get the basic set.

Thank you Kickstarter for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Kickstarter


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  • Wayne

    It seems like every man and his mistress is climbing on board the VR headset craze, I wonder if we’ll see Lipton Tea release one soon. As for me, I’ll wait until the tech matures more and prices drop before I take a closer look.