How complicated can a VR all-in-one headset can be? A Chip, a lens, a plastic case and a few bands. The assembly line of a Shenzhen factory can finish one headset within 5 minutes, but it is far more difficult to design an excellent VR all-in-one headset. During the interview with Heix website, Design Director of Goertek Chen Chongguang said that they have been working on this simple thing for over five years.
Many people take it for granted that find a factory to produce VR all-in-one headset is no complicated thing. But Chen Chongguang said that people usually only consider the hardware cost and the system integration while neglecting the input cost. However, it is this input cost that matters in the evaluation of a foundry’s capability. Few people have enough knowledge of a VR all-in-one headset product. “Many companies bring us a design and want to hire us as an OEM (Original Equipment/Entrusted Manufacture); but after our review, we became the ODM (Original design manufacture).” Even the grand factory that Goertek works with has the same questions as well: What is VR, what is essential for VR, how to design?
Many companies have design centers, but none of them has set up one for VR and visual. Few people know that Goertek has already established corporation with Sony to develop 3D glasses. “Formerly, Samsung’s 3D glasses are all produced by Goertek. Most of the active 3D glasses with PCB in the market are all produced by Goertek. ”
The current VR all-in-one produced by Goertek is based on their experience of 3D glasses development. “This so called simple thing, we’ve been researching and developing for 5 years.” Chen Chongguang said. How to choose the material? How to set the nodes for eye-tracking? How to ensure the permeability? How to wear comfortably? These questions all need to be carefully considered. And Goertek’s accumulation of 5 years ergonomic data will play an important role in the design process. “Spectacle industry will remain stable for several decades because there are a few techniques and knacks in it. A pair of glasses seems to be simple, but it is complicated as well. ” A pair of glasses has very refined ergonomic design. And data need to be accumulated to enable smooth conversion from one material to another, for example, from sheetmetal to PVC film.
“You cannot learn how to design a VR all-in-one design simply from making orders. Many people simply copy other people’s work, because they don’t have any data, so they cannot do anything other than copying.”
“Many people assumed that data comes from people, but the truth is people only accumulate project experience and Goertek doesn’t collect that.” The data Goertek collected mainly fall into two category, one is the analysis of finished products, aka the data platform for former produced products, similar to Oculus’ and Sony’s. “For example, head hoop style and three bands style both has its own data platform.” And with the data platform, in the design process they can not only think about the appearance but also about the ergonomic issues like whether the band can attach to people’s head comfortably.
Currently many VR products have light leak problem, especially around the nose area. According to Chen Chongguang’s analysis, it is because different races have different nose size, therefore the manufacturer must choose between the product or the market. When Goertek is designing for their customers, they will provide matching nose pad, and the nose whole will fit the different nose size as well.
“Many people discuss about appearance, we tend to talk about which country are the customers from.” For example, he said, French people has longer nose, therefore they need higher nose pad.
Apart from that, how to utilize ergonomic analysis to design the stress of head-mounted devise is also a challenge for the designer. “All these need data and it is also difficult to calculate. A lot of things need to be considered, including the hardware component, optics etc.”
For VR, another important thing is the heat flow analysis. Chen Chongguang said basically the VR all-in-one is to a mobile phone in front of your eye and as the CPU is always heating, the optic lenses tend to fogging up. And if you play it for a long time, the temperature might reach to 50℃-70℃.
“Where can we learn from then? Probably our experience in producing Notebook, and we’ll place a heat sink beside.” Samsung used to add a fan in the second generation of Gear VR, but in the later generations it was removed due to the noise problem. “Overheated or noisy, you have to make a choice.”
Nowadays, Samsung is focusing on heat convection design, especially the wind tunnel effect. The theory of this effect can be explained as below: If you have a fire emergency in the room and you open the window, the fire will head for the window. However, where to place the window is still a question mark. And experience need to accumulated in order to answer these questions.
After “the window is opened”, heat convection will be formed inside of the equipment, and the heat dissipation effect will then be enhanced. “If you are not professional, you can still produce VR; but we are talking about professional VR, ergonomic, effective, comfortable to wear. All these combined makes the core of VR.” Chen Chongguang said.
“Many people is copying the appearance, but they cannot copy efficiency and experience.” Chen Chongguang revealed that when the customers are discussing ID with Goertek, they can discuss in detail: where to place the CPU chip, whether they need a heatskin and a louver beside, how to caculate the aperture ratio. “They think it is all about appearance, but we are actually talking about efficiency.”
Another problem is the weight. “If you want stronger functions, then it will be heavier. How to full the efficiency and still remain comfortable is a question customers need to think about.” But he thinks, currently most people are inexperienced, they are still learning and copying. “Other people have three bands and it is comfortable, so I will try this as well.”
Even for the sponge mat in the headset, Goertek has considered a lot in the process of designing. “The lint outside should not wrinkle and should be ventilating. Many companies think it is just a sponge, but it is complicated: is it comfortable, will it be dirty easily, do we need to replace it.”
Make a Standard
Especially for the top factories, they want durable products and they hate customer complaints, therefore they have higher request on Goertek’s design and production. “Therefore we want in-depth knowledge, we need to accumulate experience and data so that we can promptly discuss the problem node with our customers.” Chen Chongguang thinks this is also what differentiate Goertek design center with other foundries. “We don’t simply accept desgin, we consider the cost, the ergonomic and the material for our customers.”
“You can find a foreign company to design as well, but they need at least 5-6 months to collect the data and finalize their design.” Chen Chongguang said. The experience Goertek has accumulated can reduce much time and development cost. Apart from that, Goertek has set up its owner material lab, ergonomic test center, facial scanning lab etc. He told heix.cn that a lot of company has set up labs as well, but not specifically for VR.
“After facing the big customers for a while, we will start to think: what do the customers want? And at what time node we should provide what service to our customers? If you want to be the top foundry, you need to have the top brand thinking so that you can provide the service these top brands want. And this is the biggest difference.” Chen Chongguang said.
Not long before, Goertek teamed with Qualcomm to launch a reference platform for VR all-in-one VR820, and this is actually based on the experience Goertek accumulated for several VR all-in-one project.
“Every year we will spend a lot to develop many projects, they might not have customers needs now, but the market need is there.” Chen Chongguang revealed that Goertek has its own marketing team in America as well and it keeps communicating with Qualcomm, Google and Facebook etc. these grand manufacturers to understand their needs.
“A lot of people are waiting for orders and only start working after they have an order. But we are never passive foundry, we want to proactively understand the customers’ need and have our development and research ready before-handed so that we can be our customers’ first choice and have the chance to accumulate experience. And then we don’t need to copy other people’s work.” Chen Chongguang said, “You have to share the same thinking logic with these grand factories in order to provide the right things. Because they are all producing grand and comprehensive things, and it is the key point.”