Connecting it to a PC
There are two ways to hook up a PC to the Turris. The most common method will probably be to use an existing PC setup and treat the Turris as a peripheral. That setup is made possible by the rotary slip connector in the base of the chair. The connector carries power, USB, and HDMI signals to the chair, and it's what makes the Turris's goal of tangle-free, 360-degree rotation possible. This connector doesn't pass Ethernet signals, though. A wired network connection over USB should work fine, but that method hasn't been tested. The prototype Turris also has three spare "developer" lines open for experimentation. Aaron took delivery of an HTC Vive last week, and he's already testing that HMD with the Turris. Handling the 90-Hz, 2160x1080 signalling demands of retail VR is more difficult than the development VR hardware that's been used until now, though. The Turris grew up alongside the 75-Hz, 1920x1080 screen of the Oculus DK2, and that headseat remains the Turris' primary demo platform for the moment.
The second option for using a PC with the Turris allows it to work without passing video from an external source to the VR headset. As it happens, the Turris itself doubles as a PC enclosure. With a PC built right into the chair, all the computing power goes along for the ride when the chair is spun around. A PC in the base of the unit lets the whole setup work without the need to transmit video signals through the slip connector. The connector still has to carry power for the PC, as well as any USB connections for things like tracking cameras, a keyboard, or a mouse. With the PC on the inside of the Turris, the HDMI cable in the slip connector can still be used to send an image out to an external display. Any PC built inside the Turris should probably skip mechanical hard drives and go 100% solid-state, for obvious reasons. Aaron didn't make that suggestion directly, probably because it goes without saying for the typical PC enthusiast.
As a PC case, the Turris is extremely bare-bones. In fact, it's closer to an open desktop test bench than a case in most respects. A Turris with a PC assembled inside wasn't available when I took my other photographs, but I was able to bring a Turris base home and toss a spare motherboard and graphics card in it to give you an idea of how it comes together. The Turris is only compatible with Mini-ITX motherboards right now, but certain microATX boards fit, as well. An eventual design goal for the Turris is to accomodate every microATX board, but space remains tight.
The Turris has room for double-wide graphics cards—a requirement for anything powerful enough to run a VR headset right now. As for board lengths, a Radeon R9 Nano fits easily, as would most sawed-off GeForce GTX 970s. The 10.5" sweet spot for many reference graphics cards would leave the card hanging 0.25" past the outside of the t-rail structure, though. The shroud around the chair has standoffs that leave a gap, though, so there should be room for those cards so long as the PCIe power plugs into the side of the card instead of the front edge. Cards longer than 10.5" are probably chancing clearance issues. The flexibility inherent to t-rail construction means that there are options to include any number of mounting brackets that could work with a PCIe riser card or extension cable, but none of those add-ons are finalized yet. While it's not pictured, the Turris offers a bracket for supporting the graphics card with screws, as it would be in a traditional case.
Other core case features that are MIA are fan mounts, a finalized PSU bracket, and any form of drive cage. I wouldn't expect 5.25" or 3.5" bays to fit in the final Turris, but that's probably not an issue for most people. Some trickier issues for the Turris are dust filtration and cable management. I've seen various incarnations of mesh grills covering the Turris' internals, but nothing that could be called a filter yet. The design of the shroud does offer room for large intake and exhaust vents, though. Cable management can be tough for any small-form-factor system, and the extra cables that come with VR compound that problem. There is space to cram cables into various hidey-holes in the Turris, but the chair doesn't have any explicit cable routing solution for now.
Based on its current state, I would much rather use the Turris with an external PC. If I were to build a dedicated Turris VR PC, I would want to use a 65W Skylake Core i5 CPU paired with a short GTX 970. A motherboard that afforded any version of M.2 storage and a modular PSU would reduce cabling concerns, too. A system like that, combined with the open air nature of the "case," wouldn't make me worry too much about heat (especially with a tower cooler on the CPU). It wouldn't be a beast, but it would get the job done without breaking the bank.
The Turris and Gear VR
The Turris is designed and optionally configured to work with mobile VR devices, most notably Samsung's Gear VR. The mobile Turris connects to the phone using Bluetooth LE. All the hardware inside the mobile version, which includes the identical switches and encoder of the PC version, is powered by an off-the-shelf USB battery pack. Aaron says the 10,000-mAh pack he uses for testing can power the chair for "days" as long as "you don't plug the LED accent lights into it." The mobile version works more or less the same as the PC version, including the critical de-coupled functionality in engines that support it. I've run the demo shown in the video at the beginning of the story on both the PC and Gear VR. The mobile version looks pretty good, despite the inherent hardware limitations of a smartphone. The functionality of the Turris is the same across both platforms.
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