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What are your cost considerations for VR hardware, software and application development that need to be taken into account when conceptualizing a VR project or expanding an existing one? In this article, we will give you an overview and also show you typical examples of total system costs at different levels. Whether you are just starting out and looking for the most cost effective way to get up and running or preparing to make a large investment to build a state of the art VR facility, this information is for you to get a successful start. For specific pricing information, or to discuss your project with our experts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a quote.
What goes into a VR project budget?
When you pencil out what you will need for a proper VR project, there are some important building blocks to consider. First, you will be using a VR headset or a VR projection system, or both? Second, you’ll need a rendering computer with ample graphics capabilities, and possible wide-area motion tracking and other sensor systems such as eye tracking or biofeedback. Third, you’ll need VR software for creating and rendering your applications. Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your facilities, personnel, installation, training and support. Here is an overview of each component to give you an idea of what you may want to spend.
VR Headset Display
Oculus Rift S: $399
Oculus Quest: $399 ~ $499
Vive Pro/Vive Pro Eye: $1,399 ~ $1,599
Vive Cosmos/Elite Line: $699 ~ $899
HP Reverb & Windows Mixed Reality: $599
Valve Index: $999
Specialty VR Headset in Development
VRGineers XTAL announced for $5,800: 180 FOV 8K / Eye tracking / Auto IPD / Built in LEAP Motion Support / Lighthouse tracking
Varjo VR-2 Pro announced for $4,995~$5,995:60 PPD in center / Eye tracking / AR /Lighthouse tracking
Pimax announced for $449~$1,299 : 8K Plus, 8K X - 14 PPD / 5K Plus, 5K XR / Artisan / Lighthouse external tracking / 170-200 FOV
One wall stereo projection: Cost dependent on projector, mounting and tracking requirements. Typically $5,000 ~ $30,000
Multi projector with multi wall systems: Hardware cost determined by type and numbers of projectors, mounting requirements and blending requirements
ROM: $50,000 ~ $75,000 for 2-sided integrated system and installation. $100,000+ for multi-sided showroom
Rendering Computer and Graphics
For HMDs: The rendering computer requirements are similar to a high end computer gamer setup (currently nVidia 2080 graphics and Intel Core i5, i7 or i9 processors). Speed of the processor is more important than multiple cores. Cost is $1,000 ~ $5,000
For Projection Systems: One Wall Projector or Multi Projector Multi Wall systems computer cost is $2,500 ~ $6,000. Graphic cards nVidia Quadro 5k/6k is $1,950 ~ $4,300 per unit. Multiple units may be needed.
Hardware - Tracking
For consumer HMDs: Basic tracking is included in HMD price Oculus Rift S / Quest, Valve Cosmo and Windows Mixed Reality. These HMDs contain inside out tracking for hands and HMD position.
For projection system: Specialized tracking is needed if hand and head tracking is required for first person interactivity. This type of system costs typically between $18,000 (Wall configuration) and $28,000 (Corner configuration) depending on the number of projectors.
Hardware - Sensors
Sensor is the hardware to record or input additional data about users or environment. It can influence an application directly or provide researchers with more context for participants. Sensors are use case specific and primarily utilized in research applications.
Typical sensor functionality and pricing:
Eye Tracking: $200 ~ $1,700 as built-in or add-on
Bio-Physio measurement: $8,000 ~ $20,000
Haptic Devices / Force Feedback: $50,000 +
Mocap: Starter system is around $20,000+
Data Gloves: $4,000 ~ $20,000
Real Time Rendering Software
Unity: $1,800 ~ $2,400 per year; per seat
Unreal: Free initially. After commercial success, 5% royalties for sales over 1 million
WorldViz Vizard: $4,000 ~ $6,000 per academic perpetual license. $6,000~$10,000 per commercial perpetual license. Multi-seat licenses start at $2,000 per academic perpetual license
Optional 3D modeling tools:
Depending on research or presentation goals, your existing facilities might need to be modified somewhat to fit a VR lab or a demo room. Facilities cost can be as low as zero if a fitting room is already available. If re-modeling is needed, it can be a substantial budget.
For corner projection systems: A flat uniform walls with white matt paint in a room with ideally high ceilings
For room layout: Use energy saving lighting and block out daylight and sunlight. Eliminate reflective surfaces by using carpet or rubberized flooring.
At least one person is in charge and appointed to be the go-to person for any changes, updates or technical questions. We recommend a small team of 2 or 3 people fully or partially in charge of the VR system, specifically if they are used by a large group of users.
Cost for VR personnel in your facility depends on salary levels.
A small ready-to-use system like WorldViz Vizbox does not require installation. It’s portable and made to work “out of the box”. Large systems like projection setups require substantial work. Installation cost also depends on location for travel cost and time.
Cost for installation: Typical cost for a one-person installation (if required) varies from $2,000 ~ $10,000 depending on location, install duration and requirements for the system scope.
Typical systems come with a minimum of ½ day training. For a group of new users, we recommend 1 ~ 4 days of on-site or remote training depending on system complexity and goals.
Cost for training: Often around $1,000 ~ $8,000 depending on length and location of the training and required level of training (entry or advanced).
Most WorldViz systems come with a one year hardware warranty and Silver level support- access to a ticket based support system with less than 24 hour turnaround time. Extension of support agreements are dependent on complexity of the supported setup and hardware.
Cost for support: WorldViz support costs 10% ~ 15% of the total system cost per year. The exact amount will depend on system specifics, location, expected support level and purchased period.
VR Application Development Considerations
VR Application can be done in house or outsourced by hiring a company like WorldViz. Phases of VR development includes:
Pre-production: Identifying project goals and storyboarding
Prototyping: Mock up / gray boxing with placeholder assets
Milestones: Graphics development and logic
Quality assurance: Testing and fixing bugs
Distribution and execution
VR Application Development - Graphics
Purchasing art assets: Assets can be purchased from Sketchfab, Turbosquid, Unity Store, 3D Warehouse and more. Many purchased assets require a clean up. Price range from $10 ~ $1,000
Developing art assets: In house or hiring 3D artists for custom graphic development for conversion of CAD models to VR ready assets, Photogrammetry or traditional modeling by hand
Custom Development - Hiring A Studio
Cost for “soup-to-nuts” custom application development can vary widely. When existing resources can be used or purchased cheaply, the minimum cost for a from scratch projects can often start around $15,000. If art needed to be custom produced, a typical project costs between $50,000 ~ $100,000. Budgets can go up from there depending on requirements.
Typical VR Project Budgeting Examples
Low Cost System - Barebone DIY Budget - $1, 500
Pre-configured gaming computer: $1,000
Low cost HMD such as Oculus Rift S: $399
Free and open source software and in house development: Free
Commercial Integrated System Budget Options - $8,000 ~ $20,000