For quite some time already game companies and those interested in game business have been trying to create a VR-Helmet. VR goes for Virtual Reality and its main idea is to integrate gamer into the game process. What for? Well, to experience another reality and get inside the game and not just be a part of it. People have always been seeking for things that will make them feel different, become a part of history and experience something that is not real or is not possible any more. I know that there is a plenty of VR-Helmets in the world but today we are going to talk about the Oculus Rift – a VR-Helmet that can actually change the way we see games.
Oculus Rift has made its first appearance on the Kickstarter and only in one day Palmer Luckey, Oculus founder, gathered $800.000 instead of $250.000 he asked for. As you can see yourself, gamers and those who seek to experience new feelings are more than just interested in the project. Plus – all the prototype models are already sold out and you shouldn’t expect to get some more in the closest future. But, if everything goes well, in 2013 Palmer Luckey plans to send Oculus Rift in mass production.
You are probably asking yourself the logical question: why now? Why this project has to become popular with such a bad history of all the previous VR-helmets? Well, it’s all about progress. In the last two years technology has covered the impossible distance on the progress scale. If you do not trust me – look at your smart-phone or tablet and you will get the answer. Chips, screens and other hardware parts became pretty cheap and qualitative at the same time. So, it takes less effort and money to create something decent without getting into trouble and Oculus Rift is a perfect example that proves the statement.
Now, you are probably dying to see what things it will have inside. Well, the most important part is its screens. There are two of them: 640×800 + 640×800 which makes it 1280×800 screen resolution for both eyes. Not bad, not bad at all. Just for your interest – the Nexus 7 has the very same resolution but with Oculus Rift you can expect a totally different experience because it will create a feeling of POV action (FPS shooter, if you will, but this time you will be that shooter and not a person who controls him). At the same time, the viewing angle is a lot better than any other VR-Helmet can offer – 110°/90°. It also has DVI/HDMI and USB ports for connection and stages of freedom with unnoticeable delay. On the top of it all, you won’t have to worry about wearing it for hours because it weights only 220 grams. Well, probably that number is going to be different after its official announcement but I am pretty sure that not THAT different. So far Oculus Rift will support PC and mobile devices but I do hope that with time Xbox 360 and PS consoles will be added to the list of supported gadgets (unless Palmer Luckey is not interested in earning lots of money).
Now, what makes Oculus Rift so different from all the other VR-Helmets out there? First of all – its availability. If Oculus Rift becomes popular and real, its price will be somewhere between 300 and 500 dollars (like an unlocked iPhone without contract obligations). Secondly – its high resolution screens that can project 2D and 3D pictures showing amazingly clear picture. Of course, this is not Full HD (yet) but I do believe that some advanced versions will have something like that. At least – technologically it’s possible, but at the same time – you will be forced to add a couple of Benjamins right away to its final price. Thirdly – light weight. 220 grams is literary nothing. Probably, your bike helmet weights more than Oculus Rift and in the game where you are supposed to wave your hand from side to side this is a big plus, even bigger than you can imagine. Fourthly – the responsiveness. Thanks to the modern sensors, responsiveness in Oculus Rift is great and even with an armed eye it won’t be easy to spot the issues (if any).
Right now Oculus Rift is not compatible with many games or other entertainments but that is because the work on it is in progress. So far with the help of this VR-Helmet you can play Doom III and enjoy some other minor games, specially designed for the item. Of course, a lot more are to come and I do believe that it is just a matter of time when we will see default compatibility with any game that appears in the future. I also believe that Oculus Rift will work like mirroring device and you will be able to watch movies in the VR-Helmet in both 2D and 3D as well as do all the other stuff. By the way, there is a technology that scans your eyes and tells on what part of the screen you are looking at. While it was designed for people with health problem, it might become handy for information input, scrolling pages, opening apps and whatsoever. Of course, that is another look into the bright future but even with the present technologies – Impossible is Nothing.
Now, the usability. Frankly speaking, it brings kind of mixed feeling. Oculus Rift feels comfortable on the head even considering that this is a prototype. But we won’t stop on that issue any more. The viewing angle is really amazing and the feeling of presence is closer than ever. Though, there are things that can be considered either as issues or as inconvenience that will be improved with time. The first “bad” thing is that now you have to wave your head to look around and move in right direction. If you have to go forward – it’s ok but when you have to go back and turn around on 180° – well, things get tough because you are supposed to move your entire body. The good news is that this action can be doubled with the analog or D-pad on your controller which is nice. The next thing – aiming. Well, this one is rather a plus: when you want to aim and shoot – all you have to do is to look in right direction and you will notice that you are pointing your gun at your target. In general, it brings lots of mixed feelings but mostly they are confusing because of a totally different experience that can’t be reproduced in real life.
I’ve heard a plenty of different opinions about the project and its future but this time I would prefer to stay on the good side. Yes, my beliefs might be naïve, but I am looking forward to see Oculus Rift on the store shelves and I am sure that it will become popular. Some enthusiasts compare it with the Google Glass project. Well – don’t! Those are two different gadgets from two different categories and they have different purposes. Maybe, in a decade or so Google Glass will look a lot like the Oculus Rift but not today and not with this motivation. Oculus Rift covers the niche of Virtual Reality, Google Glass – Advanced Reality and those are two different things.
Don’t get me wrong, but I would like to finish this post on a pleasant note that surprised me a bit but actually looked obvious from the very beginning. Sinful Robot (California) has recently announced that they are interested in the project and when it’s done, potential owners of the Oculus Rift should expect to see a dating simulator with pretty delicate scenario (if you know what I mean). At the same time, porn industry has also shown its interest in Google Glass project thanks to its POV idea. I know that you are smiling right now but despite all the fun, porn industry can bring an amazing income for both gadgets and I am more than sure that both Google and Oculus are going to accept it. After all – we live in a free country.