Chinese startup creates a virtual reality machine to take on the Oculus Rift

The ANTVR KIT promises an immersive, high definition experience ideal for gamers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 7:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 7:46pm

The Oculus Rift may be the most well-known device amongst virtual reality aficionadios, but it's not the only machine on the block.

A Chinese startup company is launching its own Kickstarter-funded virtual reality machine called the "All-in-One Universal Virtual Reality Kit", or ANTVR KIT for short. 

The company, Beijing-based ANTVR, claims that its product - which includes a wireless headset and a controller - gives users the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in larger-than-life versions of their favourite media.

It can be used in conjunction with a variety of movies and games, including those available for consoles like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. 

Watch: ANTVR KIT Kickstarter Video

"Anything that can put out an HDMI signal can be picked up by the headset,” said Qin Zheng, the project's founder, in an interview with Tech in Asia

"The [ANTVR KIT] is equipped with a full [high-definition] display," the product's Kickstarter description reads. "The sharp picture is projected onto your retina through the aspherical lens without distorting the image, allowing every pixel to remain in sharp focus.

"While wearing the headset, you’re surrounded by the largest 4:3 standard screen in the world, which gives you a 100° diagonal field of view. This gives users an IMAX-like experience in the comfort of their own homes."

Unlike the Oculus Rift headset, which uses a spherical lens which causes distortion along the edges of the wearer's vision, the ANTVR KIT is built with an aspherical lens - meaning that in theory, the product is capable of producing superior virtual reality images that wrap seamlessly around the user. 

Qin says he was inspired to found a company and create the ANTVR KIT largely from a love of science fiction.

"During college, I wrote...sci-fi stories, several of which were published in a major Chinese magazine, and even produced a few short movies,” he told Tech in Asia. "I [also] built several swimming robots, developed some satellite software, and a made a device that can identify people in virtual reality worlds.

"But, being a big sci-fi fan, my biggest dream was to make a real-life Holodeck [like the one from the Star Trek television series]. To this end, I invented a lot of virtual reality devices like holographic glasses and...headsets. Then I created the first ANTVR KIT prototype all by myself last year."

First revealed on Kickstarter this week, the ANTVR KIT has already raised over US$100,000 in funding from interested parties. If the project raises over US$200,000 by June 23, then it will be put into production.

Virtual reality headsets have gained popularity in recent years, particularly as avid video game fans search for new ways to achieve complete immersion. The Oculus Rift, which also began as a Kickstarter project, raised over US$2 million in 2012. The finalised consumer version of the product is slated for a release in late 2014.