Features and Shipping Update
In order to accommodate some important hardware improvements, which are explained below, we regret to announce a three-month delay in shipping of the STEM System to our backers. We are trying our best to balance the dual priorities of timing and product quality and we have decided to adjust our schedule for the sake of performance optimization. We now plan to ship the pre-production STEM Systems in July (originally April), and we plan to ship units to the rest of the Kickstarter backers beginning in October (originally July). Thanks for your patience; we waited until our plans were firm before presenting a new timeline. We apologize for any inconvenience related to the delay.
The delay in shipping has been a result of two primary factors, both of which are related to our commitment to delivering the best-performing product possible.
New Solution to Eliminate Distortion
First, our engineers have identified a novel way to greatly reduce or eliminate environmental distortion (often referred to as “bending”) that will significantly improve accuracy and further ensure a consistent and reliable experience in different environments and for a wider range of VR applications. Note that this is additive to all of the other previously announced improvements we have made to the accuracy, precision and range of our tracking technology for the STEM System. This is especially important for VR, where accurate absolute position tracking is critical for hand-eye coordination. We are testing this solution with this latest hardware revision, and we will share more information soon.
STEM Module Changes
During our testing of the prototype STEM module units (the removable modular tracking component) we encountered issues with the consistency of the tracking performance. Specifically, we found that the design of our STEM module introduced significant electronic noise (which required too much filtering, which adds latency) and mechanical instability (which translates to inconsistent, sometimes unreliable tracking data) to the system. For these reasons, we decided to change the design of the the individual STEM tracking modules in favor of permanently attaching the tracking components to the circuit board for the given device. This design allows us to provide the high level of tracking we have promised.
The result of this change is that what we originally introduced as individual STEMs (tracking components only) and STEM Packs (with power and other electronics) will now be a new STEM Pack that includes everything (including all of the components required for tracking when paired with a STEM Base). Likewise, each STEM Controller will also include all the tracking components, battery power, etc.
The good news is that the redesigned STEM Packs will still be usable in a modular fashion; each STEM Pack will now be totally self-contained, however, rather than serving as a component that docks within another peripheral. We are designing the mounting system for the STEM Packs to be as flexible as possible. We believe that many (if not all) of you will find development with the new STEM Packs much easier without the need to integrate any STEM-specific electronics. We will release dimensional specifications for the new STEM Packs soon. We will work closely with companies like Tactical Haptics to make sure that we provide them with the needed tracking for their products.
Anyone who ordered a three- or five-tracker system will receive two STEM Controllers plus either one or three new STEM Packs, respectively. And again, each STEM Controller or STEM Pack will have full tracking functionality with rechargeable battery power.
Below you can see a render of the new STEM Pack with interchangeable mount and wrist/ankle strap:
Below is a rendering of the STEM Pack as it will attach to an HMD (using the Oculus Rift DK1 as an example):
Here are some renderings of the updated design for the STEM Controller:
Developer Kit and Future Products
We have designed the STEM System as a developer kit to support a broad range of use cases, including short- and long-range tracking, with different configurations of trackers, in and out of VR. This gives developers as much freedom as possible to create the applications they want. For the future, we are planning lower-priced consumer products targeted for more specific applications, such as a two- or three-tracker system for a sit-down VR experience. The initial full-featured STEM System that we are shipping to Kickstarter backers is designed to provide a great user experience for any use case as well as to enable development for any of our future products.
Thank you for all of your continued support!
The Sixense Team