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Palmer Luckey, a young upstart software enthusiast who started out working out of his parent’s garage is launching a Virtual Reality head mount called the “Oculus Rift”; a mind boggling virtual reality head mount that has sent the gaming industry buzzing. When Palmer recently posted the project on the funding platform “Kickstarter,” he quickly broke his initial goal of collecting $250,000 in funding, raising over $1 million in less than four hours.
Michael Abrash, developer at Valve software, a giant in the industry responsible for games such as Half Life 1 and 2, said in a recent interview that he tried out the Oculus Rift and concluded that it “could be the beginning of a whole new industry.”
The project has even drawn the attention of software wiz and iconic game developer John Carmack, the brains behind classic game series such as Doom and Quake. Carmack has recently developed an impressive head tracking device for the Oculus and made the game Doom III available on the VR device. Carmack concluded in a recent demonstration that the Oculus Rift is the best VR device “the world has ever seen.”
Palmer himself explained: “The problem was, there was nothing that gave me the experience that I wanted — The Matrix — where I could plug in and actually be in the game. I set out to change that with the Oculus Rift.”
What sets the Oculus Rift apart from other head mounts, such as Sony’s HMZ-T1 headset, is the technical aspects such as the higher resolution and most notably the extended field of vision. The field of view has previously been the main issue for most consumer level head mounts, with a tiny, 30 – 45 degree field of view as the maximum. John Carmack explains: “that’s like looking at the world through toilet paper tubes; it’s really not good for the immersion.”
The Rift has been able to achieve a 90 degree horizontal field of view and a 110 degree vertical: you are no longer watching a screen. The Oculus Rift has achieved complete immersion. The result: a VR device that, for the first time, puts you “in” the virtual world, removing the sense of separation via the extended field of vision and the head tracking device adjusting the in-game camera after your head movements.
The Oculus has reawakened the old hype and promise of Virtual Reality. An early prototype is projected to begin shipping in December for around 275 $. The product is still crude and under development, but the early demos have been described as “mind blowing.” For now it’s only compatible with computer games, but will be integrated with other consoles such as Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, in the near future.