A VR headset with sensors, useful for training and prototyping

A VR headset with sensors, useful for training and prototyping

HP had hit hard with the Reverb G2, establishing itself as a market leader in VR headsets for PCs. With the Omnicept edition, packed with sensors, it is even more specifically aimed at training professionals by allowing them to measure heart rate, areas looked at, facial expressions and even pupil dilation. They can then evaluate parameters such as the nervousness or the mental load of the learners to adapt their methods.

Features identical to the standard Reverb G2
With the exception of these new sensors, the technical characteristics of the headset do not change from its standard edition, which we tested when it was released. So we will not go into it too much, but as a reminder, its screens have LCD panels with a resolution of 2160 x 2160 pixels per eye and a refresh of 90 Hz. They are embellished with Fresnel lenses conferring a diagonal field of view of 114 °, the interpupillary gap being adjustable using a button under the helmet.

The audio part is always provided by speakers hanging near the ears provided by Valve. Their sound quality remains excellent, the best on the market today. As for tracking, it is the result of Microsoft’s Windows MR technology, with four integrated cameras that manage the positioning of the headset but also the tracking of the two controllers (each powered by two AA batteries). The quality of the tracking is correct for professional applications that do not require extreme precision or high speed of movement, but does not have the level of tracking of a Meta Quest 2 or a Vive Pro 2.

Note that the headset requires a separate power supply in most cases, in addition to being connected by a dual USB and DisplayPort cable to the computer. This is not an insurmountable constraint but it deserves to be specified. In terms of required computing power, it worked without problems on the test machine that HP lent us for the occasion: an HP Fury 17 G7 laptop with Intel Core i9 vPro 10885H processor and 32 GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro GPU. A high-performance workstation is highly recommended to avoid unpleasant surprises.


Capture the user’s biometric information
In use, the Reverb G2 Omnicept edition is comfortable even for one-hour sessions and allows a quality experience on a whole bunch of Steam applications. But to really take advantage of it, it must be combined with an application capable of exploiting its sensors.

We were able to test it quite extensively on Ovation, a public speaking training application, and Virtual Industry, a workplace risk management training application (more specifically for the maintenance and repair of industrial electrical equipment). They make it possible to detect the attention paid, the areas watched, the nervousness (Virtual Industry shows for example the heartbeats in real time).

The accuracy of the measurements is not easy to assess, but with regard to our heartbeats they seemed to be in a range close to reality. The real question is to determine how useful these data are for training, but we are not able to determine this ourselves by a simple test. HP seems confident in any case and had presented several testimonials from professionals when announcing the product.

A unique product for very specific uses
Overall, the Reverb G2 Omnicept edition is an interesting headset and which does not really have a competitor in the very particular niche where HP has positioned it. The HTC Vive Pro 2 has a better display resolution and is compatible with SteamVR accessories, but is devoid of biometric sensors (including eye tracking). So the Omnicept is one of a kind at the moment. On the other hand, its use requires a compatible application, and this is also its most important constraint, because without it it has no real interest.

It will therefore be recommended to any company or developer wishing to prototype certain use cases (taking into account facial expressions for example) or having the means to develop or adapt its own application taking advantage of all these sensors.

From this point of view, this Omnicept edition represents a window into the future, making it possible to anticipate a possible democratization of these capabilities on other products in the future (we are thinking, for example, of the next Meta helmet). The downside is that the sensors and APIs will not necessarily be the same and that not everything can be transposed. For the user looking for simple features, the standard edition of the Reverb G2 will suffice just fine. It now costs 648 euros with two controllers, while the Omnicept version is offered at 1267 euros, which is almost double.

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