August 2, 2012
Modern Virtual Reality System Shines With Kickstarter Funding
John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Most game geeks of a certain age remember the hype of virtual reality systems. Don a helmet with oversized goggles and plastic laser gun and we were promised a completely immersive world of blasting away alien invaders or the thrill of hunting dinosaur robots from the future.
It didn´t take too many headache-inducing and nausea-prone game sessions to realize the technology wasn´t quite up to snuff and the idea of a mass-market virtual reality headset that totally immerses players in a game world died out pretty quickly by the end of the 90´s.
Fast-forward a decade and hardware designer Palmer Luckey has reason to believe that technology has finally caught up with the dream and he may have convinced game designers that he´s right, reports BBC News.
Luckey has developed a head-mounted display called the Oculus Rift and it launched on Kickstarter today after first being previewed at E3. The device quickly surpassed its $300,000 funding goal and is approaching $600,000 at the time of this writing.
The impressive funding momentum is being created by primarily by selling $300 development kits to thousands of backers. Those developers include id Software´s John Carmack, Epic Games´ Cliff Bleszinski, Unity CEO Dave Helgason and Valve president and owner Gabe Newell, who offered up supportive quotes on Rift´s potential for truly immersive virtual reality, writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica.
Oculus Rift differs from all other head-mounted displays with a 110-degree diagonal field of vision, eliminating the “tunnel vision” effect of displays with smaller screens. An “ultra low latency” head tracking system prevents the nausea that can come when the image lags slightly behind your craning neck.
The headset also features a resolution of 1280x800 (640x400 in each eye) and head tracking with six degrees of freedom, reports Jacob Siegal for PCWorld.
There are plenty of VR headsets on the market, but to find one that “deliver[s] a truly immersive gaming experience,” consumers would typically have to spend thousands of dollars. The Rift has been built with price in mind, finding ways to engineer an additive experience for gamers while keeping the cost relatively low.
The Oculus Rift SDK supports games created in both the Unreal and Unity engines, which should make it relatively easy to convert a wide variety of games to the stereoscopic headset when it´s finally ready for release.
So when might gamers begin saving the future from laser cannon-carrying dino-bots? The creators say a consumer version of the headset is “still a ways down the road,” but the intense interest already shown by developers should give this latest proposed virtual reality solution a better chance of success than some others had in the past.