The other evening, at the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) meeting in the TechCube, I had the opportunity to try the Oculus Rift - “a next-generation virtual reality headset designed for immersive gaming” - for the first time.
Although I did not use the device for an extensive amount of time, I found it to be much lighter than I expected, and it was fairly comfortable too. While wearing it, I quickly lost track of my surroundings. My brain thought I was looking around a villa in Tuscany while I was actually just standing in a poorly lit conference room turning on the spot with onlookers thinking I was weirder than usual.
The particular Oculus Rift I used was just a development model not intended for consumer use, so the issues may well be ironed out for the future consumer models. The main problems were with the resolution of the screens (will be improved), and latency.between the hardware and the device (hopefully improved).
The main problem, which is not for the makers of the Oculus Rift to solve, is with the controls. How developers decide to integrate the Rift into their software will be the deciding factor of its success.
The Rift is an impressive piece of kit that is likely the beginning of something amazing. I can’t see it selling as more than a curiosity item, but it will open the door for future devices to improve what they have started.