A French start-up called Lynx is working on an affordable, standalone, all-in-one mixed reality headset with a number of features that put it ahead of well-funded competitors like Oculus and Microsoft. A full colour mixed reality headset is the dream of anyone intrigued by Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed Reality (MR) refers to the creation of an environment in which physical reality and digital content are combined, enabling users to interact with real-world and virtual objects simultaneously (also sometimes called XR).
How is Lynx’s headset different?
The key difference with Lynx’s headset is the addition of full colour passthrough cameras allowing the same display to be used for both augmented and virtual reality. A unique prism lens and a removable VR panel allow it to switch seamlessly between VR and AR, even outdoors in bright sunlight. If the videos below are anything to go by, Lynx’s augmented reality capabilities are impressive, with full colour, distortion free visuals providing you a clear view of the real world, and solid three dimensional objects rendered over the top in excellent detail.
The Oculus Quest 2 has a similar passthrough/augmented reality mode, but is let down by low quality black and white cameras, with a view that is both distorted and grainy. Camera placement in relation to the lenses also creates distortion that is hard to correct, something Lynx believes their unique lens design has overcome.
The diagonal and vertical field of view (FOV) in Lynx’s headset is more than twice as large as Microsoft’s HoloLens. Additionally, because the images are not projected onto a screen like other augmented reality devices, they don’t appear semi-translucent (or ghost like), potentially breaking immersion. HoloLens and Magic Leap in particular struggle to compete with external light sources and have half the FOV that Lynx promises.
When is Lynx’s Kickstarter campaign?
The Lynx Kickstarter campaign will launch in the last week of September and will run for a month. Lynx plans on shipping the headset to backers in February 2021. More details will be announced when the Kickstarter campaign officially starts up. You can sign up to the Kickstarter mailing list on Lynx’s official website here.
How much will the Lynx headset cost?
Lynx originally planned to release their headset, the Lynx R-1, for business use last year for USD $1,500. They’ve pivoted to the consumer market instead, deciding to target consumers with a Kickstarter campaign at a much lower price point. This meant the removal of an eye tracking feature to keep costs down.
Base model will cost $499 (USD). There is a special edition for $699 (USD) and a business edition with support for $899 (USD). Base model does not include controllers.
What are the headset’s technical details?
|Lynx headset technical specs|
56mm to 72mm. The two lenses can be moved independently.
4 microphones including noise cancelling.
2 in strap speakers like Oculus Quest.
|VR standard support |
OS is an open-source version of Android. No need to sign into Google, etc. Steam VR support. Potential Side Quest support. Discussions are ongoing.
Field of view is a full circle of 90 degrees.
LCD display. 1600 by 1600 per eye.
Qualcomm Snapdragon XR-2.
Same chip as the Quest 2.
Provided by Finch (controllers will come in the box).
90Hz for the display as well as the front facing cameras (synched together).
Hand tracking is provided by Ultraleap. Founder Stan Larroque claims it will be the best on the market.
Who founded Lynx? Who’s working with the company?
Lynx is a team of 15 specialists working in electronics, software, optics and hardware. Founded two years ago by Stan Larroque, it’s managed to develop innovative hardware at a rapid pace. Even though small, they are working closely with big partners, which should allow them to compete way above their size. Partners include Qualcomm, the chip manufacturer, Graphics hardware and AI company Nvidia, Ultraleap for hand tracking, Finch for the controllers, and Limbak for the optics (Limbak designed the unique “four-fold catadioptric freeform prism” lens). On the production side, they have teamed up with Compal, a huge Chinese company that works with the likes of Apple. Compal is the second biggest original equipment manufacturer in the world.
What videos have been released of Lynx in action?
A few short videos reveal the possibilities of Lynx’s augmented reality tech. The first clip reveals our solar system overlaid on an office environment, while the second video is a clip from one of the augmented reality games Lynx is working on for the headset’s release. Below these, you’ll find an official update from the company’s founder, Stan Larroque, about the Kickstart campaign and details about how they’ve managed to come so far, so fast.
The most recent Lynx update (update 3) was released on 9 September 2021.