Bigscreen: Optical Improvements to Increase FOV & Clarity of Upcoming ‘Beyond’ Headset

Bigscreen Beyond, the slim and light PC VR headset from the creators behind popular VR app Bigscreen, is getting new optics in the production pipeline which the company says will feature improved field of view (FOV) and optical performance, as well as increased IPD range.

“Over the past few years, we have been continuously investing in research & development in VR optics for current and next-generation VR devices,” Bigscreen says. “Thanks to improvements to our optical elements, coatings, canting, and manufacturing processes, we are excited to announce several key optics breakthroughs that have improved field of view (FOV) and optical performance.”

Bigscreen says that while its new optics tech is now making its way to production, Beyond is still on track for a Q3 ship date for the first wave of customers in the United States.

Here’s the new features coming to all pre-order customers:

  • Improved field of view, up to 102 degrees: FOV has been increased from ~93 degrees to 102 degrees. It’s said to beat the FOV of many headsets on the market today, including Meta Quest 2, HP Reverb G2, and Varjo Aero.
  • Improved sweet spot, glare, and optical performance with 32 PPD: Various optical characteristics such as clarity and sweet spot have improved. Lens artifacts such as glare have been reduced as well. Pixels per degree is now officially 32 PPD.
  • Increased IPD range, to 55mm to 72mm: Now available in 18 different IPD sizes from 55mm to 72mm. The optical design features a large eye box that allows users to comfortably use the headset even if the headset is not their exact IPD. Bigscreen says Beyond accommodates people with a physical IPD of 53mm to 74mm to comfortably use the headset.

The company says its optical improvements critically don’t come at the expense of angular resolution (PPD) or stereo overlap, the latter of which is similar to that of Valve Index. Notably, Bigscreen says all Beyond customers will note an improved FOV except those with a 70mm-72mm IPD due to physical size limitations.

Bigscreen Beyond is set to launch sometime in late 2023, with its baseline version priced at $1,000. The company is now taking pre-orders.

To learn more about Bigscreen Beyond, check out our hands-on back in March that talks about the headset’s specs, displays, custom facial interfaces, form-factor, as well as some of the criticisms the company hopes to address with its latest optical tech.

VR Veteran Studio Behind ‘Bigscreen’ Unveils Thin & Light PC VR Headset ‘Beyond’

The team behind social VR viewing app Bigscreen today unveiled a thin and light PC VR headset that not only promises a few intriguing enthusiast-grade specs, but also a custom-made fit based on a 3D scan of your face. In short, it’s a big first for the VR veterans, who are responsible for one of the most beloved VR content viewing platforms.

Called Bigscreen Beyond, the $999 headset presents an interesting set of features which are squarely aimed at PC VR enthusiasts: dual OLED microdisplays offering 2,560 × 2,560 per-eye resolution, pancake optics, and 6DOF SteamVR tracking support.

The company is billing the tethered PC VR headset as the smallest and lightest of its kind, weighing in at just 127 grams and measuring less than 1-inch at its thinnest point.

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Bigscreen Beyond starts pre-orders today, priced at $999. Ostensibly, Beyond is targeting PC VR users who likely already in the SteamVR ecosystem but want something thinner and lighter than the last generation of headsets, such as Valve Index. Notably, the headset doesn’t include the requiste SteamVR tracking base stations or SteamVR-compatible controllers like the Valve Index controller or HTC Vive wand—you’ll have to purchase those separately.

The reasoning: Bigscreen founder and CEO Darshan Shankar says the VR software studio wanted to build “the VR headset we wanted for ourselves.”

“Today’s leading VR headsets have doubled in weight compared to headsets from 2016. We built Beyond because we felt VR was too heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable,” Shankar says. “We invented new technologies to increase comfort, and developed ultra-high-end components like OLED microdisplays and pancake optics to increase immersion. To deliver the best software experience for watching movies in Bigscreen, we also had to build the best hardware with Bigscreen Beyond.”

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Like many forthcoming VR headsets, Beyond is able to slim down thanks to the inclusion of pancake lenses, which Bigscreen says are a three-element optical design composed of glass, plastic polymers, films, and coatings.

Paired with two OLED microdisplays, each with a resolution of 2,560 × 2,560 pixels, Beyond boasts a high fill-factor with its 7.2-μm wide pixels and RGB stripe subpixels, resulting in what the company says eliminates the screen door effect—when the non-illuminated spaces between pixels make it seem like you’re viewing VR content through a screen door.

Resolution alone doesn’t tell the whole story, although for reference Valve Index is 1,440 × 1,600 per-eye, Meta Quest Pro is 1,920 × 1,800 pixels per-eye, and Pico 4 is 2,160 × 2,160 pixels per-eye.

Another one of Beyond’s big enthusiast-grade features is owed to Bigscreen’s ability to customize the fit of the headset to each user, which will be done by doing a one-time scan of the user’s face using an iPhone XR or more recent Apple mobile device. The dedicated Bigscreen scanning app is said to measure the shape of the user’s face and the position of their eyes, which allows the company to form a facial interface a unique to the individual and determine interpupillar distance.

The hand-washable facial interface is said to provide “even weight distribution, zero light leakage, and aligns the eyes and optics correctly.” Additionally, glasses wearers will have to spring for custom prescription lenses that magnetically fit into Beyond, as glasses do not fit inside the small form factor.

Although it ships with a soft strap, users can also spring for the optional audiostrap. We haven’t confirmed pricing for that yet, however we’ll update once we do.

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Granted, some things we’d consider ‘nex-gen’ are notably missing from Beyond, such as eye-tracking, face-tracking, optical 6DOF tracking, and the ability to use it wirelessly. As the first VR headset from a long-time VR veteran though, Beyond does check a lot of boxes for users such as simulator fans, and anyone looking for a better long-term VR media viewer.

Bigscreen Beyond is slate to ship in waves based on region. Preorders, which are fully cancellable and refundable up until shipping, are set to ship in the United States sometime in Q3 2023.

Second wave shipments will begin in Q4 2023 in Canada and Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, and Belgium. A third wave of will come sometime in late 2023, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand. The company says Beyond will be available in more countries and regions in 2024.

Check out the spec sheet below:

Bigscreen Beyond Specs

Display Resolution 5120 x 2560 pixels (2560 x 2560 per eye) cloed at max 90Hz
Field Of View (FOV) 93° HFOV x 90° VFOV
Pixels Per Degree (PPD) 28°
Interpupillary Distance (IPD)
56mm-74mm accommodated (fixed IPD per device, 58mm-72mm)
Optics Type Custom Pancake Optics
6DOF Tracking SteamVR Tracking (aka Lighthouse)
Version V1.0 or V2.0 Base Stations. Not included.
Controllers SteamVR controllers (ex. Valve Index, HTC Vive). Not included.
Full-Body Tracking
SteamVR trackers (ex. HTC Vive Tracker, Tundra Tracker). Not included.
Audio Not built-in (USB C port for Audio), or optional Audio Strap
Ports USB-C accessory port (USB 2.0)
Microphone Input Stereo microphones
PC Connection DisplayPort 1.4 (video) and dual USB 3.0 ports (power, data)
Accessory ports USB-C (USB 2.0 speed)
Cable 5-meter custom fiber optic cable and Link Box
PC Requirements
CPU Quad Core Intel or AMD
Nvidia RTX 2070 or AMD RX 5700 XT or newer (DisplayPort 1.4 and DSC required)
Ports 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x USB 3.0 ports

Quest Users Can Now Watch YouTube Together Thanks to ‘Bigscreen’ Update

Bigscreen is putting Meta to shame again, as the VR hangout app just got a serious bump in functionality for Quest users and PC VR users alike. Now VR’s favorite social viewing app includes native YouTube support, so you can watch anything on YouTube with friends and strangers.

Bigscreen has now added the version of YouTube you’d expect to find on a console or smart TVs, directly integrated into the VR hangout app. The update is out now for all supported headsets, including Meta Quest and all SteamVR and WindowsMR headsets.

This means you can use all YouTube features you’d expect, including logging in to your standard account or YouTube Premium account for ad-free viewing, watching YouTube TV for live sports and TV, and even renting movies through YouTube. Just like everything on Bigscreen, there aren’t any sharing limitations so you can easily pop on whatever you want: a TV show, rented movie, or live sport for friends and strangers.

For PC VR headsets, this also essentially means you don’t need to use the desktop mirroring function since YouTube is now baked in like all of the app’s other channels.

Following an update in December, this also means you’ll be able to share that screen with up to 15 people per room. Previous updates also brought improved spatial audio, new environments, and better remote desktop capability, which allows Quest users to stream their PC into their virtual room to share with friends.

Bigscreen says it has plenty more in the pipeline too. In the next few months, the studio says it’s looking forward to launching “a huge improvement to our Social VR platform with a new friends system, Bluetooth keyboard/gamepad support for Remote Desktop, and more,” Bigscreen CEO Darshan Shankar told Road to VR.

Bigscreen is available for free on all major headsets except for PSVR. There’s still no ETA on when to expect the app on PSVR although the developers have said in the past that its optimizations on Quest have essentially laid the foundation for PSVR in the future.

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Watch Super Bowl LV For Free In VR This Weekend With Bigscreen

This weekend you can watch the Super Bowl in VR, for free, in Bigscreen on Quest, Rift, Index, Vive, WMR, or any other SteamVR headset.

Almost two years ago Bigscreen began offering TV channel features and has expanded to include actual paid movie premieres and ad-supported free movies, in addition to the multitude of ways VR users can just hang out and share their screens in VR. Now, thanks to CBS Sports broadcasting the Super Bowl for free online, Bigscreen is adding the big game to the list.

This Sunday, February 7th, anyone with a compatible VR headset (basically a Quest or PC VR headset) can jump into Bigscreen and hang out with people from all over the world and watch the Super Bowl live for free.

If you’re on PC VR you can host your own private room, but if you’re on Quest you’ll have to join an existing room from your headset. The CBS Sports livestream will be featured prominently on the home page so it’ll be like walking into a series of sports bars to hang out and enjoy the game with likeminded NFL fans.

The Super Bowl LV event in Bigscreen kicks off on Sunday, February 7th, at 3:30 PM PT when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the first time in the history of the NFL, one of the teams in the Super Bowl is the host city for the event. Since the locations are planned years in advance, it’s always been impossibly rare, making this a historic game regardless of the outcome.

Do you plan on watching the Super Bowl in VR? Let us know down in the comments below!

‘Bigscreen’ Launches Ad-supported Movies for Free On-demand Viewing

Bigscreen today announced is bringing ad-supported movies to the free social viewing platform, which will allow users to watch select films for free.

Bigscreen first brought paid on-demand movie rentals to its virtual cinemas early last year, which was the result of multiple partnerships with movie studios such as Paramount Pictures.

Now Bigscreen is bringing free movies hosted by PlutoTV, which much like their streaming TV content, will have intermittent ads sandwiched in between. A big difference between steaming TV and the new ad-supported film service is that films can be watched on-demand, and in any Bigscreen environment.

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Film availability depends on your physical location, however Bigscreen says content coming to US-based users includes Arrival, Seabiscuit, Clueless, Nacho Libre, Adventureland, Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity 4, It Follows, “and more.” The studio says it’s adding new films each month.

“Bigscreen has added many integrations with streaming services over the past year, such as Twitch, PlutoTV, and Adult Swim,” the studio says. “We plan to integrate more streaming services in the future, [and] we’re actively working on built-in YouTube support next. As previously announced, we are also developing a Friends System and a new technology to enable large groups of people to stream ultra-low latency video in VR.”

The new ad-supported film is coming to all supported platforms today, which includes SteamVROculus RiftOculus Quest, and Oculus Go.

The post ‘Bigscreen’ Launches Ad-supported Movies for Free On-demand Viewing appeared first on Road to VR.

‘Bigscreen’ Brings ‘Rick & Morty’, ‘The Eric Andre Show’ & More to Free TV Selection

Bigscreen, the social viewing platform for VR headsets, just launched a number of new free TV channels including Rick and Morty, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Samurai Jack, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros, and The Eric Andre Show.

Bigscreen first added its TV livestream back in July 2019, which at the time brought over 50 channels to the free app. With its recent additions, users can now select from 172 channels—all of which are available for free in public rooms. Some channels are region-specific, but a majority can be viewed from anywhere.

“Today’s new TV channels all have an age restriction on it, requiring users to consent that they are 18 or older before entering,” the studio says in an update. “Bigscreen’s built-in Parental Controls also allow parents to prevent their children from entering any of these 18+ rooms, public rooms, or social situations.”

Besides being able to chat with others face-to-face, Bigscreen also lets users rent 3D movies, watch your own local media through its internal video player, and mirror your desktop into a room—letting you watch and share practically anything you want in VR.

The studio says there’s plenty of new features coming down the pipeline for 2021 too. A Friends System is still in the works along with built-in YouTube support, and the ability to make private TV-viewing rooms. The studio is also set to roll out new servers which it says will “dramatically improve the video/audio streaming quality.”

Something users have been asking for a while now is a Remote Desktop feature, which will allow you to stream your Windows desktop to Quest. Thankfully, that’s also slated to arrive sometime in 2021.

The update is now live across all supported platforms which includes SteamVR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and Oculus Go.

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New Bigscreen TV Channels Feature Rick And Morty, Eric Andre Show And More

Bigscreen announced that is is launching additional free TV channels today, featuring streams of popular shows such as Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show and more.

The new channels will join the ever-growing list of free TV streams available on Bigscreen as part of Bigscreen TV. These rooms use ad-supported public streams from sites such as YouTube and Twitch and play them in public social rooms, allowing users to join a public TV channel room and enjoy the show with the company of other users.

The new channels added today will be screening Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Samurai Jack, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros and many other shows. This brings the total number of free TV channels available on Bigscreen up to 172. The new channels  will also require users to confirm that they are over 18 years of age before entering the room.

bigscreen rick and morty

Currently, TV channel streams are only available in public social rooms on Bigscreen. However, the developers noted that they are working on a feature that will soon allow users to bring up any of the free TV channels in their own private room as well, to be enjoyed alone or with friends.

Speaking of friends, the Bigscreen devs are also developing a friends system for the app that they expect to arrive sometime this year, alongside “new servers that dramatically improve the video/audio streaming quality, a new Remote Desktop feature with ultra-low latency desktop streaming to the Quest, and more!”

Things look set to be a big year for Bigscreen — the devs recently spoke about the impact of the Quest 2 launch on their app, stating it had a ‘massive’ knock-on effect.

Quest 2 ‘Massive’ For Bigscreen, Holiday Update Available Now

Bigscreen released a holiday update just before Christmas bringing new environments and features. Plus, the developers are seeing strong statistics and retention on Quest 2.

The biggest part of the update is the new drive-in theater environment, which the developers said was the #1 most requested feature from users.

In addition to the drive-in, the app has also been redesigned over the last few months and now features a brand new user interface. The developers say that the new UI should make it easier to discover new rooms and content, which is convenient as there’s also 60 new TV channels being added into Bigscreen in this update. The channels “including major crime-drama series such as Narcos and hilarious game shows like Wipeout.”

A new TV category called “To Infinity and Beyond” is also being added to Bigscreen for livestreams and re-runs of rocket launches. According to the developers, SpaceX launches are some of the largest social events in Bigscreen and VR in general, with thousands of people all watching at once.

bigscreen drive in

The developers also noted that the Quest 2 launch has been massive for Bigscreen and has meant that the team had to upgrade their servers. According to the developers, “core metrics are up 3-5x since October” and people are spending more time in the app than ever. “The average session is nearly an hour, and power users spend 20-30 hours every week in Bigscreen. Quest has become the most popular headset in Bigscreen’s userbase, followed by the Oculus Rift S, Valve Index, and HTC Vive.”

Thanks to the server upgrade, lobbies now support 12 people (up from 8) and the plan is for room size limits to increase up to 25 or even 50 people sometime next year.

With this update, Bigscreen is no longer supported on Oculus Go, as Facebook stopped accepting app updates for that headset as of December 4. The Oculus Go Bigscreen servers will be shut down “in the coming weeks.”

Next year, Bigscreen plans to ship several features, including “a friends system, new avatars, new environment, major improvements to our video streaming, a new ultra-low latency Remote Desktop feature and more.” PlayStation VR and Mac app support are both also “on the roadmap” but without a strict timeline.

Watch Bigscreen’s CEO Talk With Ernest Cline About Ready Player Two

Author Ernest Cline is joining Bigscreen CEO Darshan Shankar for a conversation to promote his new book, Ready Player Two.

The sequel is due out on November 24th after 2011’s Ready Player One ignited imaginations with its vision of an 80’s-inspired future taken over by VR. The movie version, of course, came out in 2018 directed by Steven Spielberg. The Q&A session with Cline and Shankar will be streamed in Bigscreen on December 5th at 5 pm Pacific. According to Bigscreen, the event will be free to anyone with the Bigscreen application and a supported VR headset.

“Bigscreen is by far my favorite VR application and it’s also the one I’ve used the most this past year,” Cline said in a prepared statement. “I get together with my friends inside Bigscreen at least once a week to hang out, watch movies, and play games together, even though we’re scattered across the country.  I’m so grateful to Darshan and his team for turning something from my imagination into a reality, and for doing it decades before I thought it would be possible.”

ready player two bigscreenWe’re interested to check out the new book and see how it stacks up to the original. There’s even been talk of a prequel as well that would explore the founding of the virtual Oasis that’s central to the story. It’ll be a little different reading the sequel in 2020, though, with VR headsets like Oculus Quest 2, HP Reverb G2, and Valve Index in homes around the world transporting people to virtual worlds.

Are you planning to give the book a read? Let us know in the comments.

‘Bigscreen’ Expands Platform for Creators with New Green Screen Environment

Bigscreen, the social screen-sharing app for VR, is striding into new territory with its new green screen environment, which aims to let creators repurpose their avatars for anything from Zoom chats to YouTube videos.

The platform has a number of theater environments that are great for chatting, viewing videos and playing games; since there’s no user-generated environments, it can’t really be used for much else though.

Now you’ll be able to replace your background with anything you like, opening Bigscreen’s possibilities beyond its use as a video-viewing social app.

Using Bigscreen’s Green Screen

Virtual environments make everything easier from a setup standpoint: you won’t need a physical green screen, web cam, or adequate lighting—that’s all taken care of in-software.

Firstly, the new green screen environment can only practically be used on PC VR headsets. This is because Bigscreen’s third-person ‘Selfie Stick’ and ‘Streamer Cam’ capture tools are only available for SteamVR-compatible headsets and Quest 2 via Link. The original Quest is said to receive the Selfie Stick tool in the future.

Bigscreen supports Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, all Windows VR headsets, Oculus Quest and Oculus Go. Find out how to download it for free here.

In addition to the obvious requirement of a SteamVR headset and VR-ready PC, you will also need a third-party capture tool like OBS, which is a free desktop recording tool with native chroma key software built in. There’s a quick tutorial from Elgato on how to use the chroma key function on OBS if you need help setting it up.

Make sure to have the latest update installed on Bigscreen, and go to the ‘Green Screen’ options under the ‘My Room’ tab, which is in the ‘Environments’ section. Set up either a selfie stick or streamer cam and start recording. And there you have it: your avatar superimposed on any background you like.

The post ‘Bigscreen’ Expands Platform for Creators with New Green Screen Environment appeared first on Road to VR.