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The state of VR: Where Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and others stand right now

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 12, 2015
Let the countdown begin: We are roughly T-minus one month from virtual reality.

”So…when and where can I buy one?” You can’t. StarVR is only a concept right now—similar to the Rift the past three years. You might catch it at tradeshows, so there’s an opportunity for you to try out the hardware. But I’d say it’s at least a year, maybe two, before StarVR hits market. If ever.

Razer OSVR

I’d be remiss not to mention Razer’s OSVR for two reasons. 1) Because it’s Razer, a large and well-established company in gaming. 2) Because of what OSVR stands for: Open-Source Virtual Reality.

As Razer puts it:

“[OSVR] is an ecosystem designed from the ground up to set an open standard for Virtual Reality input devices, games and output with the sole goal of providing the best possible game experience in the Virtual Reality space. Supported by Industry Leaders and focused on gaming, the OSVR framework rallies gamers worldwide together to push the boundaries of VR-Gaming.”

razer OSVR HMD
Razer’s new OSVR promises to make virtual reality open source and democratic. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

It’s an admirable goal, given how much the scene has fragmented in the past year. I keep saying “When this started, Oculus was the only one around,” but that’s a bit of an understatement. Last year, i.e. December of 2014, Oculus was still the only serious virtual reality contender—Gear VR was a bit of a we’ll-see-what-happens experiment, and everything else (HTC Vive, OSVR, StarVR) was still unannounced.

That sort of proliferation could actually do more harm than good in a technology as untested and unproven as VR. After all, it’s what leads to us writing lengthy exposes like this one about the state of the technology. And if VR does take off, expect the problem to get even worse as every company that’s ever soldered two wires together decides to make its own headset.

Enter Razer, uncharacteristically willing to cooperate with other companies and hopefully mitigate fragmentation. And also sell some VR headsets, while it’s at it.

The Razer headset is a bit lower-end than the consumer Rift or Vive, more on a par with the Rift developer kits. Razer makes a $200 headset that apes the DK1, with a 1920x1080 screen at 60Hz and a 100-degree field of view. For an extra $100 (or $300 total) you get a headset and included position-tracking camera, a la the DK2.

Razer OSVR HMD Back
Razer’s OSVR HMD features a 1080p screen and with the plans and specs being published, you can build your own. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

There are a few extra perks. Because OSVR is more a network of companies and not just Razer, the plan over time is to integrate other technology into the headset—for instance, Leap Motion’s hand-tracking. Merging virtual reality with Kinect-style tracking could be a powerful mix in the right hands, indeed.

 

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