Imagine being able to immerse yourself in another world, without the limitations of a TV or movie screen. Virtual reality has been a dream for years, but judging by current trends, it may not be just a dream for much longer.
I won’t claim that when a technology gets written up in Consumer Reports it has “jumped the shark”, no. Instead I would rather give Consumer Reports kudos for keeping tabs on others writing up and lauding the Oculus Rift VR headset. The specifications of this device continue to improve even before it is hitting the market. Hopes are still high for the prices to be reasonable (really it needs to cost no more than a bottom of the line iPad if there’s any hope of it taking off). Whether the price meets everyone’s expectations is very dependent on the sources for the materials going into the headset, and the single most expensive item are the displays.
OLED (Organic LED) has been used in mobile phones to great effect, the displays use less power and have somewhat brighter color than backlit LCD panels. But they cost more, and the bigger the display the higher the cost. The developers of Oculus Rift have now pressed the cost maybe a little higher by choosing to go with a very high refresh rate and low latency for the OLED screens in the headset. This came after first wave of user feedback indicating too much lag and subsequent headaches due to the screen not keeping up with head movements (this is a classical downfall of most VR headsets no matter the display technology). However Oculus Rift has continued to work on the lag in the current generation head set and by all accounts it’s nearly ready for public consumption. It’s true, they might have fixed the lag issue and most beta testers to date are complimenting the changes in the hardware. This might be the device that launches a thousand 3D headsets.
As 3D goes, the market and appeal may be very limited, that historically has been the case. Whether it was used in academia for data visualization or in the military for simulation, 3D Virtual Reality was an expensive niche catering to people with lots of money to spend. Because Oculus Rift was targeted at a lower price range, but with fantastic performance visually speaking who knows what market may follow it’s actual release. So as everyone is whipped up into a frenzy over the final release of the Oculus Rift VR Headset, keep an eye out for this. It’s going to be hot item in limited supply for a while I would bet. And yes, I do think I would love to try one out myself, not just for gaming purposes but for any of the as yet unseen applications it might have (like the next Windows OS or Mac OS?)