NOV. 17, 2015 • A new player in the growing virtual reality hardware arena is Absentia VR in Bangalore. The firm recently secured ₹12 million ($182,000) in a round of investment financing from Astarc Ventures and 50K Ventures, as well as debuted its Tesseract VR headset at the first Indian Games Expo (IGX) held last weekend in Mumbai. Unlike either the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR headsets, which utilize proprietary technology to create the virtual reality user experience, Absentia’s CORVUS and ORION algorithms can create VR – vectorization, edge detection or stereo pair generation – from any application and send it into the headset’s display. Tesseract developer (pre-production) units for the PC are available in 1440p resolution for ₹20,000 ($303), and 1080p for ₹12,000 ($182).
Impact: A major concern the large VR hardware players need to accept is the possibility that VR eventually becomes a low-cost solution easily integrated into existing hardware forms, because the promise of a universal virtual reality standard could have a great deal of power in the consumer electronics industry. Absentia’s three principals, formerly students at the BITS Pilani Goa campus, claim Tesseract can work with any PC content designed for other VR headsets. By all accounts, Absentia’s early development hardware available at IGX had serious issues with stutter and frame rates during gameplay, so it will be interesting to see if those kinks can be worked out. Still, this platform independent approach has a lot of potential in a competitive situation were mainstream consumer demand is expected to be low while early entrants into the space fight it out for core gamer market share. Where Tesseract may have a better chance at getting a commercial foothold is with non-game media. Facebook Inc. has mass consumer applications in mind for Oculus Rift, which is one reason why the social network bought Oculus VR Inc. for $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in stock last year. But those non-game options will be locked directly into Facebook’s content offerings. A less expensive universal VR product like Tesseract could also find a welcome home with serious games developers and academic institutions. Absentia is adding a disruptive element to the whole virtual reality movement. If the company can make good on its technology ambitions and navigate the startup waters successfully enough to get traction outside of India, they could be a game changer.