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Forget Xbox One and PS4, all I want for Christmas is an Oculus Rift

Michael Sawh

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Forget Xbox One and PS4, all I want for Christmas is an Oculus Rift

Yes, I just dropped the C word in June, but after the announcements at E3 it’s fair to say there’s already more than one or two people wishing away the days to get closer to Xbox One and PS4 launch.

With Microsoft’s decision to abort DRM restrictions and always-on check-ins and Sony’s cheaper price tag, the next generation console war will be a fascinating one. But it wasn’t the only hardware on show at the LA gaming expo that created something of a buzz. If anything the Oculus Rift could prove to be a more exciting prospect not just for gamers, but for TV and movie lovers too.

It was actually from behind closed doors at the Bethesda booth at E3 last year that legendary Doom and Quake creator, John Carmack, blew away the fortunate few that got to try out an early prototype version of the virtual reality headset we now know as the Oculus Rift.

Despite its home DIY appearance, the device that resembles a pair of heavy-duty ski goggles and is made up of an LED display, can deliver low latency images with a field of view that creates the kind of immersive experience that puts Vuzix, Zeiss and Sony's recent efforts to shame.

The Oculus Rift was back on show at E3 2013 and Etoo, a London gaming event set up for those unable to get to the LA gaming expo. The appearance of a 1080p full HD resolution prototype instantly makes the Rift all that more desirable.

If you’re ready to dismiss the Rift as a gimmick, then consider the growing game support surrounding it. Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Doom 3 and 4 have already been optimized to work with the Rift, while Epic Games announced its Unreal Engine 4 will also support the device, which could open up the possibilities of the Rift being used for mobile devices. Gaming will make or break the Oculus Rift and the strength of support bodes well for its success. While Oculus is sticking firmly to its guns to perfect the PC-compatible version, it will be exploring other areas.

But it’s not just software that’s backing up the Rift. Peripheral manufacturers Razer with its Hydra PC Motion sensing controller that works with the Rift, as it does the Leap Motion and the Virtuix Omni-directional treadmill, sounds a bit like the VirtuaSphere and also deserves a special mention. It has soared past its pledge total on Kickstarter by some margin, all before consumer versions are even been available.

Carmack, along with Valve’s Gabe Newell, are among a host of influential figureheads in the games industry who have endorsed the Oculus Rift, both in its early stages or to help the project gather the kind of momentum it needed to reach its Kickstarter pledge total on day one, racking up $2.4 million in total.

Developer kits priced around the £180 mark have already been making their way to pledgers and also into the hand of Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida who said he ‘loved it’ when he had a play. That’s a massive endorsement for the Oculus Rift, but the fact that companies are now exploring the possibility of embracing the technology beyond gaming is perhaps the most exciting prospect.

Next3D are one of the companies doing just that and have developed a live action virtual reality concept it is currently calling, ‘Full Court’. It hopes it will mean people who can’t stump up the cash for a ticket to a game can still feel like they are part of the action. Using a setup that combines the Rift with 4K cameras and 180-degree fisheye lenses, you’ll be able to literally follow a tennis ball from left to right as it flies over the net on Centre Court.

The creators of the Oculus Rift still point to consumer-ready devices being set for release some time in 2014, and the latest investment of £16 million from Spark Capital and Matrix Partners could help accelerate development. This could bring it to market sooner and help make the device look less like it’s been hatched in a garage by the A-Team

The Oculus Rift is painting an exciting and innovative future for gaming. It’s one that I want to be part of even if my only means of doing it is hooking it up to a PC. It’s probably the closest I have ever felt to that sense of truly being inside our favourite pixelated worlds, but the potential to open up the immersive technology to live broadcasting and even movie production that means we really should be shouting about the Oculus Rift it as much as we are about the Xbox One and the PS4.

Michael Sawh is a new addition to the TrustedReviews team. Be friendly and say hello or follow him on Twitter if you're into that kind of thing.

Tim Sutton

June 26, 2013, 10:46 am

Welcome Michael!

And I am completely with you on the Rift, it feels to me like a genuine paradigm shift, while all three next gen consoles are just iterative.

I want a full HD Rift more than I've wanted any consumer electronics product ever. For work, for travelling (my god, the long plane trips would be so IMMENSELY improved) and for gaming it seems to be the perfect solution.

Dragos

June 26, 2013, 4:52 pm

All I want for Christmas is a PS Vita.

Pg

June 27, 2013, 1:12 pm

The only issue with this around broadcasting is that it isn't a very social device. Even if everyone with you has a device, you still can't see each other, or anything else for that matter. It'll be harder to snack whilst watching, can't keep an eye on a sleeping baby or , hell, even see the burgler that's walking around your house (I know this can happen already).

All that said, for gaming, this looks awesome. TV could be interesting with it, but I do think the lack of seeing anyone else could hold it back here.

Matthew Fuller

June 27, 2013, 5:23 pm

This is being worked on too. One example is VR chat and the software to do this is now on indiegogo - http://www.indiegogo.com/proje.... Its a flexible funding campaign so any bit helps. But I wouldn't be too generous unless you are planning on buying a rift. The guy who is creating this software has enough money to buy 60 dslr's for a homemade motion capture studio. Anyway, follow the link. This is only one example though.

itsallgonepearshaped

June 28, 2013, 10:34 am

Absolutely, of all the recent tech, this has stood out the most. While VR has obviously been around a long time, being fully immersed in the experience with Oculus having full HD fast refresh framerates it should be a vast improvement on past efforts.
I particularly like the "Full Court" example. Being centre court, concert, theatre any public venue you choose to name, would be a fantastic solution to the often expensive and overcrowded events.

Guest

June 28, 2013, 11:05 am

Content is King.

Chugs 1984

July 2, 2013, 2:36 am

I"m extremely buzzed about Oculus Rift and what it means for humanity. For far too long the military and other specalists high end corporates (i.e. airlines) have strangled VR development. I was researching just a few years ago for a HD head-set and found the pricing starting at $10k.

VR will change the way we interact with information, not just games. Film and television could be shot in a way to give the viewer the perception and belief that they are the subject.

Added improvements into simulation of various parts of our brain (already on the market) and integrated into Oculus Rift means that this incredibly seductive technology will have the ability to seduce us into the Virtual Realm.

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