Project image
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$17,752
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
165
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Oct 15 2016
Last updated October 15, 2016

Expanse Virtual Cinema (Canceled)

Turn your smartphone into a personal theater for $80. Expanse is a VR headset with up to 5x the resolution of other VR devices.

Expanse Virtual Cinema (Canceled)

Turn your smartphone into a personal theater for $80. Expanse is a VR headset with up to 5x the resolution of other VR devices.

$17,752
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
165
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Oct 15 2016
Last updated October 15, 2016

About

Reviews and references

"I held the Expanse viewer to my face like [Google] Cardboard, but inside I saw something unlike anything I’ve seen before in VR" - Ian Hamilton, Upload VR: http://uploadvr.com/expanse-viewer-kickstarter-project/

Featured in cover story of the MIT Technology Review:  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602353/vrs-big-surprise-3-d-worlds-have-little-appeal/?set=602386

“I'm really impressed with the resolution and field of view you guys have managed to achieve.” – Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix during live demo in Los Gatos August 14, 2015

"The movies is really all about being emotionally and visually transported away and you've definitely done that." - Bob Dowling, Former Editor in Chief and Publisher of Hollywood Reporter during live demo in Santa Monica, CA July 30 2016

 

 

Live demo @ 9-20-16 SVVR meetup in San Jose, CA
Live demo @ 9-20-16 SVVR meetup in San Jose, CA

 

Live demo @ 9-20-16 SVVR meetup in San Jose, CA
Live demo @ 9-20-16 SVVR meetup in San Jose, CA

What is Expanse?

Expanse is a monoscopic VR headset with up to 5x the resolution of other VR devices like Rift and Vive and a 90 degree field of view that has been optimized for non-VR content (movies, shows, 360 videos, apps, and games). Two of the biggest problems with new or even popular VR headsets are poor resolution and a shallow library of VR apps. Expanse solves the content problem while providing 5 times the resolution of other VR devices like the Gear VR or Rift for video content and over twice the resolution for 360 content.

NOTE: Expanse is the same resolution as your smartphone. All resolution claims assume the use of a 1440p smartphone.

Here are some of the things you can do with Expanse right now:

  • Watch your favorite videos or streaming video apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube and ESPN on a screen larger than most movie theaters and up to 1440p resolution (the same videos in a Gear VR or Rift would be about 480p). If you have a phone with an OLED screen this means you can experience the magic of HDR contrast without spending $4k on an OLED TV.
  • Watch 4k 360 videos in native resolution. Expanse doesn't suffer from pixellation or the screen-door effect (when using a 1080p and up smartphone) like other VR headsets. This allows you to experience your favorite 360 videos in a way no other headset can offer.
  • Play your favorite apps and games on a theater sized screen. If an app runs in landscape mode and can be controlled with a mouse or controller it can be used with Expanse.
  • Play your favorite console or PC games on a theater sized monitor. With an Expanse display cartridge you can play your favorite console and PC games at native resolution on Expanse. But even without an Expanse cartridge you can stream your PC or console games to your Android or iOS device in HD albeit with a small amount of latency. This is similar to the Cinematic mode in a Playstation VR but cheaper and with 5x the resolution.
  • Fly your DJI drone in FPV mode giving you a cockpit-like view of the flight with the camera feed filling your field of view in high definition.

After a successful Kickstarter we will open our developer program and work with existing VR apps to begin porting them over to Expanse. This is generally a trivial conversion for Unity developed apps.

We have also spoken with Trinus VR and plan to work with them to develop a monoscopic VR mode which would allow you to play your favorite first person PC games in monoscopic VR using Expanse.

How do you use it?

It's incredibly simple and intuitive. Simply open the Expanse Cinema app, connect an air mouse or bluetooth controller to your phone, and insert it into Expanse. From the Expanse Cinema app you can watch movies, shows, and 360 videos that are stored on your phone or you can launch your favorite video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and more.

The air mouse included with Expanse works like a Wii-mote on Android smartphones and has a gyroscopic sensor in it that controls a mouse cursor on your screen. The included controller has a 'remote control' side which has a direction pad, volume control, selection buttons, and Android navigation buttons. The other side of the remote has a keyboard for text input.

How is this possible?

Expanse allows you to experience high definition VR right now by utilizing a completely different optical design than other VR devices. Our magic utilizes an all reflective optical design similar to those used by professional aircraft simulators called a collimated display. This design avoids the chromatic aberration (color error caused by the refraction of light through a lens) inherent in the refractive designs used by Cardboard, Gear VR, Rift, and Vive and greatly reduces distortion. 

Using a unique parabolic optic with a dielectric mirror coating, Expanse images the almost the entire phone display to each eye (rather than the two separate smaller images used by other VR devices). Because of this, Expanse is monoscopic or in other words it trades off stereoscopic 3d for resolution resulting in an image that is up to 1440p (or 4 times better than standard HD) over a 90 degree FOV. 
Expanse uses nearly all of your phone's pixels.
Expanse uses nearly all of your phone's pixels.

Not stereoscopic?

Many people make the mistake of presuming that because Expanse is not stereoscopic 3D, it must produce flat, uninteresting imagery. The truth is that few of the people we've demoed Expanse to even realized it wasn't 3D until we mentioned it. Our optical design collimates the light going into your eyes which makes it seem like the imagery is coming from far away. Combined with the lighting and shading that's been used in movies, shows, and gaming for decades it can actually be as compelling an experience as stereoscopic 3D but without the headaches. 

Think about the last time you went to see a 2D movie or played your favorite video game. The graphics look realistic and have great depth cues without the vergence cue that stereoscopic 3D gives you. 

Compatible Phones

Expanse can be used with the majority of modern smartphones with displays between 4.7" and 5.7" with the following disclaimers:

  • The Expanse Cinema App will be compatible with both Android and iOS phones. This app will allow you to watch videos and 360 videos in immersive theater environments.
  • On Android devices Expanse can be used with any non-VR app that can be used in landscape mode and controlled with one finger (the bundled air mouse can be used to simulate finger touches and swipes) or with a Bluetooth controller.
  • On iOS devices Expanse can be used with any non-VR app that can be used in landscape mode and controlled with a Bluetooth controller. (iOS does not currently support mice so the air mouse will not work. Video applications like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Youtube, etc. can be controlled in-hand and then inserted into Expanse when the video starts).
  • If the Kickstarter succeeds we can begin approaching existing VR apps to port them over to Expanse. 

For all devices with screens above 5.1", clipping (can't see a small portion of the screen) will occur in the bottom corners. We had to make a judgement call against making the headset significantly larger to use a full 5.5 inch screen and found that 90% of the time the corners weren't missed. The clipping is only a potential issue for non-360 apps. Here's a diagram with some popular phone sizes and the clipping.

$200k?!?! Why do you need so much?

We know, $200,000 is a lot of money but I promise you it's not so that we can retire on a beach sipping margaritas. Unlike many other entry level VR devices, our optics are not available as an off the shelf component. They must be custom made and coated with expensive optical coatings. Think about how much the anti-reflective coating costs on your glasses... our optics are much larger. Specifically, the tooling for our optics costs roughly $50k with unit costs per optic hovering around $12-$20 depending on the Kickstarter volume. Our number one goal is to make sure you get your Expanse headset on time and we'd rather fail to meet our Kickstarter goal than risk not being able to fulfill your pledge.

Names and contact info redacted for privacy
Names and contact info redacted for privacy

The controller

The Expanse bundle is recommended for all Android users as it comes with an extremely useful air mouse. This controller uses a gyroscopic sensor to move a mouse cursor around the screen much like a Wii-mote if you've used a Wii. This mouse cursor can imitate single finger touches including tapping and swiping and allows you to use a lot of standard, off-the-shelf Android apps within Expanse (we love playing Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds with it). 

The controller that comes bundled with Expanse will likely be an off-the-shelf controller that will be rebranded with the Expanse logo. This is the one we use on a daily basis for demoing and development and will probably be the one included with the headset along with a micro USB adapter for the dongle:

https://www.amazon.com/LYNEC-C120-Portable-Wireless-3-Gravity/dp/B00RMX9H7A/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1473876518&sr=8-4&keywords=air+mouse

https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-LDesign-Android-Smartphone-Samsung/dp/B015XA3W0G/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1473876398&sr=8-8&keywords=microusb+to+usb 

Unfortunately iPhone users will not be able to use the controller as iOS does not have native support for mice. This limits the usability of iPhones with Expanse to apps that support bluetooth controllers.

The Expanse Cinema App

We’ve been developing an Expanse Cinema app which acts as the hub for the Expanse experience and puts your favorite streaming content in a variety of familiar and exotic 360 degree locales so you can watch Star Wars on the moon, Jaws on the beach, or your favorite show in a luxury home theater. We’re currently talking with and have secured one of the top streaming video providers to integrate their streaming services directly into the Expanse Cinema app. 

But even without custom apps, Expanse is unique in that it can be used with many of the apps already on your phone. Because our optics have much less distortion than other VR devices and view the entire screen, any app that works in landscape mode with a controller or mouse can be used with Expanse. With up to 1440p resolution, Expanse can also be used for text-heavy applications such as surfing the web or reading ebooks.

Features

 

Why Expanse?

Virtual reality (VR) has arrived in the form of countless low-cost, smartphone-based headsets and prohibitively expensive PC-based devices but two big hurdles stand in the way of mainstream adoption: content and resolution.

Content

Gear VR and Google cardboard have sold in unprecedented numbers, yet there’s barely enough content for them to last you a week. While VR specific content is sure to come eventually, one form of media is already available that promises countless hours of immersive entertainment on your VR device: video. In fact, according to Palmer Luckey, videos and 360 experiences are the biggest uses of the Samsung Gear VR.

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3zt7ul/i_am_palmer_luckey_founder_of_oculus_and_designer
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3zt7ul/i_am_palmer_luckey_founder_of_oculus_and_designer

It’s not hard to imagine why. Sure, watching the movie Interstellar on your 50” flat screen at home is nice but what if you could watch it on a 200” screen on the moon? What if you could ride a 20’ wave through the eyes of a pro surfer or see a game-winning play through the helmet of your team’s quarterback? These experiences all leverage both new and existing video content in an immersive new way promising to change the way we consume media.

Resolution

Unfortunately current VR devices aren’t really suited to watching the vast majority of video content. Almost all movies, shows, and 360-degree videos are filmed in high-resolution 2D but the VR viewers on the market are all low resolution stereoscopic 3D. While stereoscopic 3D provides a compelling experience for content that can use it, it does so at the cost of up to 80% of your display’s resolution. The result is an image that fills your field of view but suffers from bad pixelation and the so-called screen-door effect, both of which ruin the immersive nature of VR.

This is a fundamental problem with the optical design of VR devices at the moment and one that can’t be solved until 4K and 8K mobile displays become available along with the massive batteries and powerful processors to run them smoothly.

Kickstarter Levels

$5 – Become a backer and get access to weekly updates and news. We’ll also give you a shout-out in the credits section of our Expanse Cinema App.

$80 – Get the Expanse viewer as it rolls out of the factory complete with unique custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

$90 – Get the Expanse viewer as it rolls out of the factory complete with unique custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

ADDITIONALLY, we will include a gyroscopic air mouse and micro USB adapter to control and interact with your favorite Android apps.

Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

Stretch Goals

$500k – We have been working with a mobile display provider to create an Expanse cartridge that will plug into your favorite HDMI devices. This 5" 1080p display features an improved backlight and video rotation to fix the standard portrait orientation all mobile displays have. There is a 1000 unit minimum order so if we get enough support and traction we will make this display available to our Kickstarter backers at cost.

Design Features / Specs 

Custom molded optics – Our custom precision reflective optics are the key to Expanse’s magic and they aren’t cheap. The main front optic is diamond-turned with optimized reflective coatings featuring uniform spectral response and good durability. Our splitter is a low-loss partial reflector that maximizes throughput while minimizing ghost reflections using vacuum deposited coatings. The tooling alone for these optics can be over $50,000. Our engineering team has spent over a year prototyping and testing Expanse’s optics to ensure you have as wide a field of view as is comfortable while preserving imaging quality and minimizing distortion.

Silicon facial interface – One of the most important aspects of VR is comfort. One of the quickest ways to ruin the immersive magic of VR is for a headset to fit uncomfortably. Luckily, the unique phone position in Expanse gives it a better center of gravity than most VR devices making it feel slightly lighter. More importantly, we designed a silicon and replaceable foam interface that conforms to your face with a soft microfiber lining. You're going to want a bed made of this stuff.

Universal Clip – It was important to us that Expanse was accessible to as wide an audience as possible. This meant designing a way to hold a wide variety of phones. With an elastomer grip underneath and sweet heat sink design on top, our headset will hold (almost) any smartphone that's 6-15mm thick with a 5"- 6" screen. 

Lens Cover – While Expanse is see-through when you want it to be, sometimes we want to ignore the world and binge watch Game of Thrones. Thankfully our lens cover snaps easily on and off with a single hand and blocks out the outside world, fully immersing you in your hedonistic ventures. And since optics account for over half the cost and all of the magic of Expanse, the cap will help keep them safe and clean when not in use. 

Louvered window – Our louvered window insert allows you to see your hands and feet while wearing Expanse which is awesome for eating popcorn, typing, using a controller, or anything else you do with your hands. Since Expanse is also see-through and untethered, you could theoretically walk around and live a "normal" life wearing Expanse all the time (though we don't recommend it). 

Timeline

August 2015 – Initial prototype tested, prototyped, and demoed

November 2015 – Upgraded optical elements prototyped

December 2015 – Prototype testing and iterations

January 2016 – Expanse Cinema app started

February 2016 – Domestic manufacturers sourced for production

June 2016 – Prepping the Kickstarter campaign

September 2016 – Kickstarter Launch!

October 2016 – Begin tooling optical and chassis molds

November 2016 – Receive preproduction optics and housing

December 2016 - Manufacturing and packaging

January 2017 – Begin shipping Expanse! 

 

Risks and challenges

Optics Risks: At least one other Kickstarter VR company has totally failed to make their primary optic; however, we will not have this issue. We have had optical molding experts at Diverse Optics confirm the specifications required to meet our performance needs, and we have multiple domestic vendors that have provided quotes for tooling and fabrication of the optics. These suppliers have experience providing optics for consumer, aerospace, and medical devices, as well as AR devices like Meta. More importantly, we have the capability to reduce costs and turn-around significantly if the demand is high enough through multi-cavity tooling. We've also made conservative estimates on our funding goal to ensure any setbacks don't delay delivery.

General Manufacturing: We have also had domestic injection molding companies confirm the moldability of our chassis. We have chosen to use domestic manufacturers in order to avoid shipping delays and keep an eye on the process. Our design is thankfully simple and we don't expect issues in this department.

Technical risks: The optical design of Expanse has been used in collimated displays for years and is well understood. Modifying it for use on the head introduces little technical risk. The biggest technical hurdle is making sure Expanse is comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. To tackle this risk we have contracted a product designer with years of experience developing goggles for sports and military to work on our silicone facial interface.

We've done a lot of legwork lining up suppliers for Expanse to avoid the typical Kickstarter delays. We're confident that with enough support we can meet our timeline but feel free to voice any concerns and we'll try to ease them.

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Support

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    Become a backer and get access to weekly updates and news. We’ll also give you a shout-out in the credits section of our Expanse Cinema app.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Early bird Expanse headset

    Get the FIRST batch of Expanse viewers as they roll out of the factory complete with unique custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

    Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Expanse headset

    Get the SECOND batch of Expanse viewers as they roll out of the factory complete with custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

    Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Early bird Expanse bundle - RECOMMENDED

    Get the FIRST batch of Expanse viewers as they roll out of the factory complete with unique custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

    ADDITIONALLY, we will include a gyroscopic air mouse and micro USB adapter to control and interact with your favorite Android apps.

    Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 98 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Expanse headset bundle - RECOMMENDED

    Get the SECOND batch of Expanse viewers as they roll out of the factory complete with unique custom coated optical components, universal phone clip, louvered environment window, and comfortable foam padding.

    ADDITIONALLY, we will include a gyroscopic air mouse and micro USB adapter to control and interact with your favorite Android apps.

    Compatible with most modern Android smartphones, this level also includes: a head strap, lens cap, carrying case, and lens cloth. (See FAQ for iPhone compatibility)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)