XTAL, a Headset That Deciphers Feelings

When engineers and designers are asked to imagine the perfect VR device, they come up with numerous requirements. The image quality must be excellent, the field-of-view must be wide, integration must be easy, and data must be secure.

XTAL, which has recently been unveiled by VR engineers, could be very close to this ideal. The first VR device equipped with AutoEye and embedded Leap Motion, it was built around the needs of professionals. The visual quality delivered by the gadget is sufficient for even the most challenging tasks. The gadget meticulously developed in Prague has many potential uses:

  • digital design;
  • prototype creation;
  • teaching and training.

AutoEye

This technology devised by VRgineers ensures automatic alignment of lens positions with the viewer’s eyes. The interpupillary distance (IPD) is critical for image quality. The technology guarantees it is always correct and enables effortless switching of headset users.

Leap Motion Sensor

XTAL is the first ever device to be equipped with a Leap Motion sensor. The latter provides highly accurate 180×180º hand-tracking. This means smooth interaction with a VR scene using bare hands.

Other Features

The new device will allow you to give voice commands in VR using the built-in microphone. The special voice recognition software provides more freedom, so you can focus on what you are doing. Here are the main competitive advantages of the novelty:

  1. crystal-clear 5K resolution;
  2. wide 170º field-of-view;
  3. patented non-Fresnel lenses;
  4. fresh embedded technology;
  5. reduced size and weight;
  6. a more compact body;
  7. leather face cushion for comfortable wearing.

Hence, the headset creators have managed to combine several contradictory requirements. According to Martin Holecko, one of the company’s co-founders, “XTAL is a short way of writing crystal,” notes  “It symbolizes the new crystal-like polygonal structure of the device and our obsession with a crystal-clear image in VR. Plus, it refers to XTAL’s country of origin, known for its ancient craft of Bohemian crystal glass.”

Emotion Analysis

The company’s partnership with Neurable has added “brain sensors” to the device. With the neurable system, the interior of the headset strap is equipped with  Electroencephalography (EEG) sensors. These collect data from contact with the skin around the human brain. Next, this information is combined with the eye-tracking data in real time. This could enable the system to recognize, measure and analyze the wearer’s emotions and intent.

The potential uses of the device were outlined by Neurable CEO Ramses Alcaide. As he explained, while eye-tracking lets the system know where and when the user is looking, BCI allows monitoring of their internal cognitive state. Hence, “with both data streams, we can extract powerful behavioral insights from virtual reality not available otherwise”. Simply knowing where the wearer is looking does not suffice for deep analysis. It is necessary to determine what changes are going on in his emotional state. Only a combination of both channels will bring real value to the new applications.

The military is spending millions on HoloLens AR headsets to boost soldiers’ efficiency, and Walmart is reported to have bought 17,000 Oculus Go devices to train its workforce. If companies appreciate the potential savings and increased profits brought by VR training, investment in XTAL is a reasonable idea. With the addition of Neurable software and EEG sensors, the XTAL device will offer powerful tools for analysis and training. Naturally, with a hefty price tag.

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