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Introduction

This suite provides the essential components that users, content creators, and developers need to use OSVR with all versions of their HDK hardware (1.3, 1.4, or 2).

With this software, you can configure your HDK hardware and the OSVR Server, as well as play native OSVR and SteamVR content.

To learn more about OSVR and the Hacker Development Kit (HDK) please visit http://www.osvr.org.

If you have feedback on this product, please share it with us in the OSVR Software Discussion forum at http://www.osvr.org/forum/ or on Reddit at https://www.reddit.com/r/OSVR/.

HDK Windows Installer Beta 0.8.0

Improved Positional Tracking

The primary focus of this release is improved positional tracking.  Specifically, we've upgraded the version of OSVR-Core we distribute in order to take advantage of the latest publicly available version of the positional tracking algorithm.  On top of that, we've made some additional improvements to fix the judder.  While this part of OSVR is still under active development with room for further improvement, we believe this is the best that positional tracking has ever been for the HDK.

The new positional tracking system is certainly a marked improvement for users with default IR LED Board firmware.  For the optimal experience, though, we do recommend that users upgrade their IR LED Board firmware.

Additionally, we strongly recommend remaining within the camera's optimal tracking area for the best performance.  In our testing, we've found that tracking is best within roughly 24 inches (0.6 meters) between the IR Camera and the HDK, and that it starts to degrade noticeably beyond 30 inches (roughly 0.75 meters), but of course your mileage may vary.

We're eager to hear your feedback on our new tracking system.  Positional tracking using a single IR Camera and an LED array is a complex and imprecise science, and consequently all of the solutions available to us have trade-offs.  In this case, we believe we've found the sweet spot, but this solution does lend itself to increased judder should you stray beyond the camera's optimal performance envelope.

Patch Notes

We've also made a number of other improvements.  Please read on for the full patch notes.

  • Positional Tracking
    • We updated the version of OSVR-Core we distribute to one based on version 0.6.1935.
    • On top of that, we altered the video tracking plugin so that it now sends a new pose every time it receives new data from the HDK's IMU.  This makes tracking much smoother.
    • We also fixed the angular velocity output of the video tracking plugin.  Previously, this was not quite right, and that issue caused SteamVR to perform incorrect predictions, contributing to further judder.
    • We added a default Y-axis (i.e. height) offset when not using the IR Camera.  You will now appear at the same height whether you use the new tracking plugin or not.
    • The new positional tracking algorithm requires the IR Camera firmware be newer than revision 5.  Most users already have revision 7.  See below for further details.
  • SteamVR-OSVR Driver
    • We fixed an issue where certain experiences frequently attempted to pause because they believed that the HDK had become idle.  The underlying cause was that the HDK does not have a proximity sensor to know when it's being worn, and the way in which this feature was being emulated in the driver before did not always work as intended.
    • Experienced SteamVR-OSVR users may recall that in the past, the osvr driver directory had to be manually copied into Steam\steamapps\common\SteamVR\drivers.  This has not been the case for some time, but some HDK users may still have the legacy driver in that directory.  Unfortunately, it is possible for that legacy driver to override the driver distributed with the HDK Windows Installer; because they share the same name and SteamVR loads drivers in alphabetical order, this behavior is considered undefined.  In order to prevent this issue, the HDK Tray Application raises a warning dialog if such legacy drivers are detected.
  • HDK Firmware Utility
    • We added a button to allow you to launch the IR Camera firmware update utility.  All commercial HDK2s shipped with the latest firmware, revision 7, but users with HDK1s or pre-release HDK2s may have IR cameras with older firmware.  This option is merely provided as an alternative; if the OSVR Server Console detects outdated IR Camera firmware, it will automatically launch the same update utility (see below).
    • We fixed a rare issue where a supplementary application used to detect the type of your graphics card could crash when launching this utility or the OSVR Server.  This functionality has been removed from the HDK Firmware Utility and integrated within the HDK Tray Application.
  • HDK Tray Application
    • If your IR Camera firmware is out of date (and thus incompatible with the latest positional tracking algorithm), the HDK Tray Application now automatically launches the IR Camera firmware update utility.  Simply click Upgrade and then restart the OSVR Server once it's done.  If you're having issues upgrading, please check the troubleshooting documentation.
  • HDK Sample Scene
    • Your position is now also reset when proceeding past the splash screen and when pressing the recenter button.

 

We've also brought the online documentation portal up to date and cleaned up a few documentation issues.

For further details about the major features and known issues in the previous release, please see the release notes for version 0.7.0 below.

HDK Windows Installer Beta 0.7.0

HDK Tray Application

The HDK Tray Application – formerly the OSVR TrayApp – has been completely rebuilt.  Most of the configuration tasks which used to require complex manual effort are now completely automated.  We hope you like what we've done with it!

  • Automatic OSVR Server configuration
    • By default, the correct OSVR Server configuration JSON file is automatically selected based on your system configuration.
    • This takes into account whether you are in Extended or Direct Mode, whether you have an HDK 1.x or HDK 2, and whether you have enabled your IR Camera in the Options menu.
    • Advanced users can override the default setting with the Custom button in the Options menu.
    • The default OSVR Server configuration files we provide are tuned to provide the best experience.  In particular, we've modified the prediction settings to remove the "whiplash" effect where the world briefly continued to rotate after you'd abruptly stopped turning your head.
  • OSVR Server management
    • Whenever you change a setting that would require starting or restarting the OSVR Server to apply the change, you're immediately prompted to (re)start the server with one click.
    • You can now easily toggle your IR Camera (used for positional tracking) on and off.
    • The OSVR Server shortcut now launches this application and then this application launches the OSVR Server.  This functions even if this application is already running.
  • Display management
    • Your HDK's display mode – either Direct or Extended Mode – can now be set with one click from the menu.
    • Your graphics card's type (either AMD or NVIDIA) is intelligently detected and the corresponding mode switching application is automatically run upon request.
    • When your HDK is in Extended Mode, it needs to be set to the correct orientation in Windows, otherwise content will appear upside-down or offset. Good news: we now detect when your HDK (1.x or 2) is not in the correct display orientation and offer to fix it for you with one click.
    • If you're seeing an inverted image in your HDK while using SteamVR, you can fix this with one click in the Options menu.
  • OSVR Server Console
    • We've wrapped the existing OSVR Server console window in a modern, user-friendly GUI rather than the traditional Windows terminal.
    • Double-clicking on the OSVR icon now launches the OSVR Server Console.
    • This new window features buttons to start, stop, and restart the server.  You can also recenter what is considered "forward" to more easily orient content in your VR space.
    • You can easily copy bits of the log, copy the entire log's contents to the clipboard, save the log to a file, and clear the log history.
    • The log persists between restarts of the server.
    • You can toggle automatic scrolling, allowing you to read specific log output at your own pace and then catch up to the latest information with one click.
  • Completely revamped GUI and user experience
    • When something goes wrong, you'll almost always get a helpful error message.
    • When you exit this application, all of the applications it launched are automatically closed, so you don't need to close them all manually.
    • Hovering over the tray icon reveals the current status of the OSVR Server.
    • We refreshed the look and feel to better match the OSVR color scheme.

HDK Firmware Utility

The HDK Firmware Utility – formerly the OSVR Control Panel Interface (CPI) – has also been completely redesigned.  We've streamlined it to focus solely on managing the firmware of your HDK by moving some features to the HDK Tray Application and removing extraneous features.  We're particularly happy with how easy and reliable firmware version detection and updating are now, and we hope you share our enthusiasm!

  • Checking the firmware versions
    • This tool can now display the version information from all known firmware releases for HDK 1.x and HDK 2.
    • You'll now see clear error messages when we're unable to communicate with your HDK's firmware.
  • Firmware update process
    • We've completely revamped the firmware update flow.  It is significantly easier than it used to be and is also extremely reliable.
    • If you use the firmware files distributed by the HDK Windows Installer, this tool protects you from flashing the wrong firmware onto your device (i.e. you can't use it to flash HDK 1.x firmware onto an HDK 2).  This is based on a comparison of the firmware file's name and the firmware that is currently running on your HDK, so it won't protect you if you use other firmware files or are running your own custom firmware on your HDK.
    • A new dialog shows you the progress at each step of the way: setting bootloader mode, erasing your existing firmware, loading the new firmware, launching the new firmware, and verifying the new firmware's version.
    • We carefully wait for each step to complete successfully before moving on to the next step.
    • If any step does not complete successfully, you'll see a clear error message indicating the state of your HDK.
  • Revamped GUI
    • All of the legacy controls are now clearly labeled with details about their functionality.
    • We also refreshed the appearance of this tool.  It may not be pretty, but it's much easier on the eyes now.

HDK Sample Scene

The HDK Sample Scene – formerly the OSVR Sample Scene (or "The Campfire") – has been revamped.  It's more helpful for testing your system and a bit more pleasing to the eyes (and ears).

  • We added an in-VR splash screen.  Once you've donned your HDK and you're ready to go, the on-screen instructions direct you to press the spacebar to proceed to the scene.
  • We also added audio to the scene.  In addition to being surprisingly soothing, it will help you ensure you have the correct audio device and volume selected.
  • The scene now always runs at maximum graphics settings, so it's much more pleasing to look at.
  • When the scene crashes – which it's intended to do in cases where certain configuration issues have occurred – you'll see a helpful error message.  We've found that while it's extremely reliable if you're running 2.00 firmware, it can crash just after launch seemingly at random when in Direct Mode on an HDK 2 that is running earlier firmware versions.

SteamVR-OSVR Driver

We've significantly improved the tracking performance and general experience when using SteamVR content with an HDK.  Some of these improvements have already made their way into the open source repository, but a few are still unique to this build of the driver and will hopefully be merged into the open source repository in the future.

  • We improved neck model handling and tuning, resulting in a more natural feeling, particularly when you look down.  SteamVR's neck model will now only be used when OSVR is not configured to provide one.
  • We reduced tracking jolts when turning your head by correctly passing angular velocity data to SteamVR.  This one comes from the community; thanks!
  • Your HDK is automatically detected, regardless of what firmware it's running (unless you're running your own custom version of the firmware).  You no longer need to edit Steam's steamvr.vrsettings file to match your HDK's display EDID vendor and product ID.

Miscellaneous

  • We've created a custom build of the standard OSVR Server tracking plugin which uses very little processing power when idle.
  • We built a modified version of the Video Tracker Calibration Utility that is aware of which LEDs are purposely disabled on the HDK2 and ignores them.  This is merely a change in presentation; the underlying calibration algorithm is unchanged.
  • After extensive testing, we have selected OSVR-Core version 0.6.1393 (git sha 4f86005) for this release due to its proven stability and compatibility. The version we've distributed has some modifications for improved functionality, reliability and performance. Please see the documentation for information on how to use an alternate version of the OSVR-Core.

Known Issues

We've subjected the HDK Windows Installer and the HDK Software Suite it deploys to extensive testing.  For almost all use cases, it performs flawlessly, and when it doesn't work, it fails gracefully.  However, as this is a beta release, we're aware of a few issues.  Most of them are minor, such as the HDK Sample Scene's unreliable handling of HDK disconnections while it's running, or the undefined behavior that can occur when you plug in multiple HDKs at once.

The primary issue we're tracking at this time is AMD support.  With updated drivers and an HDK2, everything will generally work, but we've observed some issues with the color palette (or possibly gamma correction) that appears on the HDK's display.  We've also observed that after putting an HDK into Extended Mode, you may need to disconnect and reconnect it to force Windows to properly locate the display.  Lastly, we've encountered certain incompatibilities with native content when using an HDK 1.x in Extended Mode on an AMD graphics card.

The other major concern that users should be aware of is the need to update the HDK's firmware (specifically the firmware for the HMD Main Board) for optimal stability.  For HDK2 users, we strongly recommend updating to version 2.00 of the firmware.  Older firmware releases have proven to be unreliable in testing, and they often lead to issues where the display(s) won't light up or content will render to your monitor instead of the HMD.  For HDK 1.x users, updating firmware is not nearly as important for reliability, but there are several incompatibility issues with SteamVR that are resolved by updating to version 1.99 or 2.00.  Thankfully, it's never been as easy to update your HDK's firmware as it is now, and we've distributed the firmware update files you need with this package.  Simply connect your HDK, run the HDK Firmware Utility, and you'll be running the best firmware available in under a minute.

Lastly, support in 32-bit versions of Windows may be limited.  Given that 32-bit Windows is limited to 4 GB of RAM and most graphics card and HMD vendors recommend a minimum of 8 GB of RAM for VR, we anticipate very few of you will be using 32-bit Windows and thus did not dedicate significant resources to supporting and testing it.


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