Virtual reality headsets fall into two categories so far; there are the dedicated headsets and then the smartphone plug-in cases that provide a cheap way to get a first VR experience for the consumer. Now Sensics and Razer have announced the Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR), that offers not only an alternative way to get your own headset, but also offers a software development kit that goes with it.
The OSVR ecosystem allows the consumer to build his own headset by providing a detailed component list as well as 3D files to print the missing parts, I assume. The OSVR project is fully open-source to bring game developers into the mix.
The image shows the design of the headset in more detail. In contrast to the smartphone plug-in covers, this headset contains an integrated display. In the current version the display is a 5.5″ FHD module translating into a pixel density of 401 pppi. The open platform allows the users and developers to exchange the display as needed.
The software developers kit allows game developers to take advantage of the hardware including the included sensor board. OSVR already has quite a list of supporters, as shown in the following image.
The group includes Sensics and Razer as hardware and software developers, but there are also some game developers involved. The goal is to make virtual reality not only available to consumers, but also to provide an affordable solution.
The main selling point of the design is the claim of improved optical performance with minimal distortion. According to the press release, current VR systems have optical distortions of 30% that are being corrected by software. OSVR claims that its system has distortions of only 13%.
While the files can be downloaded from the website, the current state of the project is listed as 0.5, making this an early prototype. OSVR provides standardization between input, output and application to allow modular software development that will make code independent on the hardware platform. – Norbert Hildebrand