Nearly every gamer of age has interacted with and been subsequently disappointed by a “virtual reality” headset display. Versions of these displays appeared in arcades as far back as the 90s, but none of them caught on. More recently, technology has finally caught up enough to make “virtual reality” an achievable goal. As Sony has demonstrated, however, even their high-end projector headset with a PlayStation Move controller strapped to it only seems to recreate the old “virtual reality” experience with better graphics. However one virtual reality headset had begun impressing the gaming industry enough to cause some excitement.
The Oculus Rift gaming headset impressed the judges of the Game Critics Awards enough to garner a nomination for best hardware/peripheral at E3 2012. The Wii U ended up winning that category, but the Rift had made its mark and gained the attention of the gaming industry.
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, states that his headset’s impressive nature is due to two factors: lag and field of vision. The Rift has a huge 110 degree field of view to provides the viewer with stereoscopic 3D images. This is wider that most human peripheral vision, and means that players using the Rift will not be able to see the edges of the screen. As for lag, the sensors for player head movement are claimed to be so low-latency as to follow the player view exactly.
As any gaming hardware manufacturer knows, though, hardware doesn’t sell without good software. To that end, Oculus is holding a Kickstarter to raise the funds to get development kits into the hands of software developers. Their hope is that developers will love the technology so much that they will built support for the Oculus into their games.
As seen in the video below, the Oculus already has the support of some of the biggest names in the gaming industry, including Cliff Bleszinski, the design director for Epic Games, and Gabe Newell, the co-founder and managing director of Valve. “It looks incredibly exciting. If anybody is gonna tackle [this] set of hard problems, we think that Palmer is gonna do it,” said Newell.
Take a look at the kickstarter presentation for the Oculus Rift below, which includes several soundbites of praise from those industry heavyweights. Those who donate enough to the kickstarter project can receive a developer kit for the device. Of course, Oculus has already far surpassed its goal of raising $250,000. As of now, the pledges for the kickstarter project total more than $1.4 million.