By | December 2, 2023
Immersed is a virtual desktop app for Meta Quest, HTC Vive and Pico headsets.

Immersed’s Visor sounds almost too good to be true, so we dug deep to find out if it’s a real product.

If you haven’t heard of the sunken visor before, it’s a VR headset slated to launch in 2024. In some ways, the visor sounds too good to be true. Although it has high-end specs like 4K-per-eye resolution, eye tracking, wireless PC VR, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 for standalone mode, the Visor’s price is surprisingly low at $950.

It also comes from a company best known for the virtual desktop app Immersed. Several months ago, a software developer making their own VR headset would have sounded unlikely. However, we have seen Bigscreen VR, another app maker, design and launch the small but potent Beyond headset, proving that crossing disciplines from software to hardware can work well.

Still, the questions remain — How do we know the recessed visor is real and how can the price be so low?

Immersed is an established company

Immersed was founded in 2017 and according to Reuters, the company was valued at $150 million in August 2023. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is a prominent investor in this startup.

Immersed is a virtual desktop app for Meta Quest, HTC Vive and Pico headsets.

Immersed is a virtual desktop app for Meta Quest, HTC Vive and Pico headsets. | Image: Submerged

The Immersed app is a well-known VR productivity app with nearly 2,000 reviews on the Meta store and an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. It is actively maintained and has a robust support team and a large community of users. I personally use and enjoy the app. Mixed writer Jan described Immersed as “one of the best Quest apps.”

Submerged visor in progress

We know that Immersed is a well-established software developer with a loyal user base. How do we know it works on a VR headset?

Manufacturing hardware requires more resources than developing software. Immersed understands this and the company is going public (NASDAQ ticker: AIMR) to help secure funding for this new venture. In addition, Immersed has announced partnerships with Qualcomm and Intel. An unnamed “tech giant” will help with manufacturing.

Here are other milestones showing progress on the submerged visor:

Officially announced in early August, the visor looks like futuristic glasses but has specs beyond current consumer VR headsets.

Progress was shown on components at the end of August. This is an eye tracking system being tested.

The submerged visor was held in the hand of Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in September during the Intel Innovation keynote.

Intel Innovation Day 1 Keynote with CEO Pat Gelsinger

Most recently, Immersed announced that it has a patent pending on the visor. I couldn’t find the patent application under the name Immersed, but I got some pictures from a source who wishes to remain anonymous and who assures me they are from the application.

Part of the patent application for the Immersed Visor.

Part of the patent application for the Immersed Visor.

In my eyes, it is clear that Immersed and its partners are actively developing the Visor VR headset.

The next question is how it can be so cheap.

Recessed visor retails for $950

When Immersed announced the Visor, it was unexpected. One of the most surprising details, however, is the $950 price tag for a 4K-per-eye headset with eye tracking and a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2.

By comparison, Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro has 4K per eye, eye tracking, a front-facing display, more cameras, and a desktop-class M2 processor. Meta is cutting the margins thin on its $500 Quest 3 headset, it’s probably even subsidized. It has the same processor as Visor, but lacks eye-tracking and the resolution is significantly lower at a little more than 2K-per-eye.

Immersed claims to cut as many components as possible to bring the weight of the visor close to that of a phone. This can save the cost of redundant components. On the other hand, smaller components are often more expensive.

Submerged Visor rests on a desk next to a laptop.

Submerged Visor rests on a desk next to a laptop. | Image: Submerged

Still, you’d expect the price of the Immersed Visor to be closer to the Apple Vision Pro than the Meta Quest 3. How can it only cost $950?

I asked Renji Bijoy to explain the budget pricing for this high-end VR headset.

His first response suggested that the components, beyond the 4K displays, are not that expensive. I pointed out that competing headsets have similar components and costs. Bijoy explained a more important fact: Immersed doesn’t raise the price as much as others.

Part of the reasoning for a lower margin may be that Immersed’s research and development costs are much lower than the pioneers in the field.

Meta has publicly invested billions of dollars in VR R&D. Apple hasn’t revealed how much money it spent preparing the launch of Vision Pro, but we do know that the project has been in development since 2008, based on a patent application found by MacRumors.

If the profit margin on the Visor is lower, how does Immersed make money?

Immersed’s subscription model

The intention is to make money from ongoing software subscriptions. Immersed has a free tier that matches or exceeds competing virtual desktop apps. For those who want more, a $5 monthly subscription unlocks two extra screens, higher resolutions and eight more collaborators.

This is the business model for many tech companies, and sometimes it pays off. Offer a free tier with extra features available for a moderate subscription fee, then build the user base exponentially.

As a productivity app, Immersed is popular with dedicated VR users, but for faster growth it needs to break through the comfort and sharpness barriers preventing wider adoption of the current generation of VR headsets.

Submerged founder Renji Bijoy wears the visor.

Submerged founder Renji Bijoy wears the visor. | Image: Submerged

That’s the reason for the Visor and the affordable pricing. It’s a formula for continued growth – if it succeeds.

If companies are ordering Visas in the hundreds or thousands, a razor-thin margin doesn’t matter because expanding the user base and increasing subscription revenue is the ultimate goal.

Release date for sunken visor

The Immersed Visor doesn’t have a firm release date, but the company expects a 2024 release.

The Immersed Visor has plenty of investors, notable tech partners, and possibly the perfect timing as a work-focused alternative to Apple Vision Pro. The design looks good and components are tested. The next step is to assemble the parts, do thorough testing and then move on to production.

It takes time, so a mid-to-late 2024 launch seems reasonable. The rapid launch of the Bigscreen Beyond headset shows how quickly it can be done. The latest advances in VR hardware and software streamline component procurement and software development.

Still, setbacks could push Visor’s launch into 2025. Pre-orders save a place in the queue and are fully refundable, reducing the risk of investing early.

#Submerged #visor #headset #real

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