The Visualist Blog

Are Virtual Reality Headsets Making a Comeback?

John Carmack, lead programmer at id Software and creator of Doom, is obsessed with Virtual Reality. At E3 this year, he showed off his Virtual Reality head-mounted display running off an adapted version of Doom 3 BFG Edition for PC.

Many of the participants were impressed by the console, which immerses the player in the game world. The demo set was constructed with a strap obviously borrowed from ski goggles and attached with gaffers tape… It’s definitely not a finished product, but it’s enough to get people (including me) talking.

Virtual Reality headsets are not a new concept. They have been discussed for decades, and they were popular in the 90s with the Forte VFX-1  and the Glasstron. The vision of VR and the work I was exposed to at University of Utah was one of the driving factors behind the work we’re doing today at Merisve. Unfortunately, Virtual Reality really lost its momentum when these devices failed to beat out traditional consoles because of some of the technical shortcomings (for example, the rotational latency between head motion and rendering of a scene was intolerable). Some of these challenges are still going to be an issue. So it’s really debatable as to whether head-mounted displays will provide the best gaming experience, or if wide field-of-view open projection is a better option. I’ll post later on the pros and cons of both.

According to Carmack, “somebody big” is going to turn his demo into a real product. Carmack expects the glasses will retail for around $500 and could be available within a year.  I’ll keep an eye on this and pass along information as I learn more.

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