Friday, August 03, 2012
$1M IN 2 DAYS - OCULUS RIFT -- IMMERSIVE 3D HEADMOUNTED EYEWARE
A new product proposed on KickStarter has amassed a warchest of over $1M in just TWO days, blowing way past its goal of "just" $250K by a factor of four! With over 4K backers.
Oculus Rift is a proposed headmounted immersive 3D display. If they can build it successfully, it will be light, reasonably high resolution when it appears, not very expensive, and quite a killer accessory for killer games. It would also have zillions of real world applications including education and non-gaming entertainment (and, also, scary defense and surveillance applications).
The reason for the enthusiasm of the backers and the success of the KickStarter funding includes the solid background and reputation of the developers, their clear explanation of what the device can do now and will do as it evolves, endorsements by key gamers, and the fact that a $300 pledge gets the backer an early DEV kit. Plus, it seems to be well ahead of other (potential) immersive eye-ware products.
I signed on as a backer/developer because I am particularly interested in being able to create interactive 3D educational and entertainment products for a comfortable, inexpensive 3D viewing device.
Some, but not all(!) current consumer-level, interactive 3D vision systems cause excessive eye-strain, nausea, and headaches. A consumer device that provides an immersive 3D experience that people are comfortable using will have a transformative effect on game play and real world applications.
Rift seems to be ahead of its competition, which includes, at the least, Google Glasses (not to be confused with Google Googles) and projects at SONY and Apple.
Among the problems a product like this must solve are:
- Being comfortable, including being light in weight, fitting snugly, not falling off, not being too hot, and working well for people who wear eye glasses.
- Having high enough frame rate and resolution to be viewed without strain and without causing nausea, headaches, fatigue, or eyestrain.
- Operating with minimal lag between head-movements (or other input actions) and the video response.
- Having good sound, with the ear-piece/headphones being as comfortable as the glasses.
- Being able to be mass produced at a good cost.
- Generating enough interest in the developer community to provide many good games and other applications.
Here's a description of the product:
Here are the initial dev kit specs according to the site:
Technical specs of the Dev Kit (subject to change)
Head tracking: 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ultra low latency
Field of view: 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal
Resolution: 1280x800 (640x800 per eye)
Inputs: DVI/HDMI and USB
Platforms: PC and mobile
Weight: ~0.22 kilograms
HERE'S THE OCULUS RIFT KICKSTARTER WEBSITE
The comments on the site allow a good picture of the potential of the product and some of the current issues:
HERE ARE SOME CURRENT EYE-WARE PROJECTS
(Note that augmented reality -- putting information on a screen in front of your eye relevant to the image you are experiencing/viewing in real life -- is somewhat different from immersive eyewear which replaces direct vision with a virtual image.)
HERE'S A VIEW OF THE SONY PRODUCT
HERE'S A DISCUSSION OF GOOGLE'S PROJECT GLASS
APPLE HAS A PATENT FOR ... WELL, iGLASSES
And, finally, here's a cautionary video about what might happen someday when the retina itelf becomes the viewing screen for virtual images and augmented reality: