Oculus Rift headset heading to mobiles

October 30, 2013 | 11:19

Tags: #android #ar #augmented-reality #brendan-iribe #john-carmack #smartphone #vr

Companies: #oculus-rift

Oculus Rift, the head-tracking three-dimensional virtual reality headset, is coming to mobiles with the company formally announcing that it will support Android smartphones with a special headset variant.

Announced back in 2012, Oculus Rift offers an immersive 3D environment for gamers using a head-mounted display system. Funded by $2.4 million from Kickstarter and private funding of another $14 million, the device is already available as a developer-centric model with plans afoot to release a consumer version with a higher resolution, streamlined design and lower cost.

The device won't be exclusive to PCs, however, with chief executive Brendan Iribe revealing plans to create a version specifically designed for smartphones, designed by the company's recently-appointed chief technology officer John Carmack of id Software fame.

Speaking during the GamesBeat conference this week, as reported by event organiser VentureBeat, Iribe explained his company's plan to launch a mobile Oculus Rift around the same time as the consumer PC version. 'We have some exciting plans on the mobile VR side as [well as] the PC VR side,' Iribe said. 'We’re really looking at hitting the consumer market. We’re very excited about what we’re seeing. [We were] sceptical about how good mobile VR could be on such a small platform, [but] it’s pretty incredible what [Carmack has] been able to do.'

The device, Iribe claimed, would be lighter and more compact than the existing developer units, and compatible with any smartphone running the Android operating system. Thus far, support for other platforms has not been announced, but Iribe did also suggest his company is investigating the possibility of extending Oculus Rift to include home theatre support.

Oculus Rift isn't the only company looking to combine virtual reality with smartphones, however: the somewhat unfortunately-named vrAse headset, which passes images from the smartphone's screen through a series of optics to create the 3D effect, recently raised £66,556 on Kickstarter to bring its own version of the technology to market.

Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus Rift creator Oculus VR, has clarified Iribe's statement at the event, claiming that the company plans to produce a single consumer-grade headset which will work on both PCs and smartphones. 'That is the plan [to add smartphone support to the consumer headset,]' Luckey posted to reddit. 'This [VentureBeat] article is wrong.'
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