In a journalistic sphere that's prone to hyperbole, the term "game changer" is one we hear too damn often. Then again, the opportunity to play Doom 3: BFG Edition in a 3D VR headset doesn't come along terribly often. At Quakecon, that's exactly what we got to do. Sitting down with John Carmack, id Software's Co-Founder and Technical Director, is an experience in itself. Carmack is a living legend who is credited, along with his team at id, for making first person shooters a thing with Wolfenstein 3D. Even as he approaches his 42nd birthday, his aura is that of a whiz kid whose enthusiasm is unmatchable. At Quakecon, Carmack showed us an engineering prototype of the Oculus Rift, the wildly successful Kickstarter project started by Palmer Luckey and the rest of Oculus.
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.
Google Glass is only the very first, very clunky stab at a future where our entire reality is augmented by electronics. We're already working on contact lenses with built-in displays, and it really is just a matter of time until such technology becomes the norm. This concept video explores that future, only it takes a slightly sinister turn.
The reason 3D sucks is that it's usually not 3D. It's 2D, plus a token smidge of depth. True 3D is something that you can walk entirely around and seamlessly view from all sides, which is what you'll find in this life-sized telepod that can project an entire person straight into your living room.
Back at CES, we met a company called Innovega, who was busy working on some special contact lenses that could enable previously impossible virtual and augmented reality devices. The BBC is reporting that DARPA has just placed an order for prototypes, and Innovega says you'll be able to buy yours by the end of 2014.
That much-vaunted "retina display" on Apple's new iPad is pretty fancy, but at nearly 10 inches diagonal and weighing 1.5 pounds, you have to deal with a huge piece of hardware. Instead, wouldn't you rather have a display with the same number of pixels in less than an inch of space? Sure you would!
A digital picture lets you preserve an image of something indefinitely, thanks to the resilience and longevity of digital data. Digitally preserving a whole object is an entirely different kettle o' fish, but the OrcaM reconstruction sphere makes the process fast, simple, and flawless.
Our eyes are just not built for the future. It sucks, but it's true. We can't physically focus on things that are very close to us, which is why we're not all rocking high-resolution immersive virtual reality displays built into our eyeglasses. How do we fix this problem? Simple: we upgrade our eyeballs.
Does life get you down? Does the world seem hard or tough? Do people seem stupid, obnoxious or daft? If you've had quite enough of all that, just tune it all out with this totally immersive, 3D, virtual reality, motion-sensing, gesture-enabled very fancy hat.
Portals, a project by a grad student at Art Center College of Design in LA, lets you stick your hand into a display and directly manipulate a virtual world. It's not really virtual reality, and it's not really augmented reality. I'm not sure what reality to call it (a parallel reality, maybe), but the potential here is crazy.