Virtual reality failed in the 80s because the technology to enable full immersive gaming wasn't ready. With today's high resolution 3D displays, advanced head tracking and greatly reduced latency, VR can finally stand a chance. The Oculus Rift headset is VR's poster child.
Shown off to select press in prototype form at E3, the Oculus Rift is the baby child of virtual reality enthusiast Palmer Luckey. Don't let its ski mask-esque concept design fool you into thinking it's for the slopes because it's not — it's for gaming.
The Rift differs from other 3D headsets in that it's not just another virtually projected silver screen. The Rift is designed to engulf you in your gaming and really make you feel like you're inside of the game as opposed to just spectating from outside.
To accomplish that task, the Rift has an "immersive stereoscopic 3D" with a "massive field of view" and advanced head-tracking technology. Luckey says that most headsets only have a field of view of about 30 to 40 degrees. The Rift has a 110 degree field of view.
Not only that, but the Rift needs to be light if it's something that's going to be worn on the head. The current $300 dev kit prototype weighs about .22 kg (0.48 pounds). To put that into perspective, the Sony Personal 3D Viewer weighs .42 kg (0.925 pounds), so the Rift should at least be comfy for long periods of gaming.
Other specs include a DVI/HDMI and USB port, six-degree head tracking and a 1280x800 resolution (640x800 per eye).
Excited? You should be, because the Rift isn't some small-time garage project, it's got the support of top-name game developers such as id Software's John Carmack, Valve's Gabe Newell, Epic's Cliff Blezinksi as well as executives from Gaikai and Unity.
To really get the ball rolling, Luckey is unleashing the Rift on Kickstarter to rally up funding (it needs $250,000 and already has $191,422 as of this writing) and gauge developer interest. From the looks of it, feedback and demand for the Rift appears off to a positive start and should reach its goal in no time with 30 days to go to rake in extra.