We covered the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset when it hit Kickstarter last year and while I didn’t end up sinking the cash for their developer kits, I am in love with idea behind the device. VR headsets have come and gone, but our long-awaited savior has yet to arrive. But soon it will: according to reports out of CES, the Rift’s first tradeshow, this is the real deal. I can’t wait.
If you’re still unaware, Oculus Rift is a crowdfunded virtual reality initiative. Palmer Lucky created the prototype hardware out of a pair of Oakley snowboarding goggles and caught the eye of John Carmack, who optimized the technology because Carmack is damn smart. Lucky then took the initiative to Kickstarter where he easily hit his goals and in March, the first development kits will be sent out to the world. (If you want your own, they’ll be available at $300 a pop. You may find the game selection pretty limited, however.)
So where does the Oculus Rift differ from all those ancient headsets? It’s obviously smaller than all those old goggles and tucks many of the spatial awareness features like gyroscopes, common to phones these days, into a smaller frame. Instead of merely displaying two flat images in front of your eyes, using concave lenses, the headset fills your entire field of vision, periphery and all. Those who have used the headset have found that looking around replaces much of the functionality of the right stick on a controller or the lookview of a mouse. You’ll still need those to do stuff like physically turning and moving your character, but it all feels more intuitive now. Reportedly.
This is for PC titles to start and who knows, maybe next-gen consoles will support it when they arrive later this year. They better, because I want this on my dome as soon as possible.