Ever since I was a kid, there has been this unfulfilled promise surrounding virtual reality (VR). Every year some startup or another pushes out a VR system for use in any number of industries, only to have the general population respond with a marked lack of enthusiasm. Where augmented reality has had some success, VR has continued to disappoint.
Part of the problem has been getting business leaders and bean counters to invest in something that seems like a toy to most onlookers. For people that would like to use VR as a toy, the headsets have always been too expensive for mass commercial appeal. Oculus VR is attempting to finally bring VR to the masses with its Oculus Rift headset built for gaming with a cost under $500.
You may have already heard of the Oculus Rift as another crowd funded success story. Oculus VR asked the community for $250,000 and received almost $2.5 million. Since that time, demonstration and development kits have gone out to various game companies, who have nearly all reacted with astonishing amounts of enthusiasm.
What makes the Oculus Rift different, other than its gamer focus and price, is the manner in which the headset operates. Rather than offering a restricted field of view that requires that the headset try to continually render a 3D environment every time the user turns his head, the Oculus Rift offers a 110° field of view that reduces the strain on computing power.
Even non-gamers should be excited about the possibility of high quality VR for a low cost. VR could allow for training in a number of fields where making a mistake in the real world can lead to injury or death. Recordings meant for playback through the Oculus Rift could be the next best thing to actual travel, and a group of students at USC have already created their own “holodeck” using the system.
Below you’ll find a video about the Oculus Rift project.