Virtual world becoming reality

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 Illustration by Juan Carlos Campos

Illustration by Juan Carlos Campos

But is VR game tech priced too high?

By Tim Hernandez

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Gamers who have long waited for a viable yet inexpensive virtual reality headset will have to wait a bit longer for that dream to come true.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 6-9, Oculus VR introduced its Rift headset that allows for immersive virtual reality game play.

It also unveiled the price of its headset at $599.

Oculus VR raised the funds to build the Rift through a Kickstarter campaign that proved to be highly successful for the start-up company.

Jonathan Estrada, Northwest Vista video game production freshman, seized the opportunity to take the Oculus VR Rift for a test drive at the Penny Arcade Expo in San Antonio, Jan. 29-31.

“It’s weird. I’m so used to the controller,” Estrada said. “It kind of gets disorienting.”

Matthew Strawn, Northwest Vista video game production sophomore, said he did not get the opportunity to try the Oculus VR Rift during his visit to the expo but did comment on the device’s price.

“I read an article in Game Informer about the Oculus VR Rift being priced at $600,” he said. “I wouldn’t spend that on a VR device myself. I’m interested in watching it evolve. Maybe eventually, it will become something that catches my interest.”

Strawn did say he was able to try another gaming interactive device called the Virtualizer at the expo.

The Virtualizer was created by researchers at Austria’s Vienna University of Technology, who founded the company Cyberith to market their work.

The game player stands on and within the Virtualizer to make use of it.

The device resembles walkers made for infants but sized for an adult.

The player walks around in place on the base plate while wearing a waist belt attached to three legs that convert the player’s movement to in-game movement.

The player can walk, run, stand in place, jump, squat, kneel, sit and rotate.

“When people tested them, they reported motion sickness,” Strawn said.

Cyberith’s website states that the Virtualizer can be used in unison with Oculus VR’s Rift headgear for a fully immersive gaming experience.

A fully realized Virtualizer was priced at $999 in July 2014 during the Cyberith Kickstarter campaign.

Both of these devices have competition in the marketplace.

The HTC Vive headset, priced at $799 and the Sony PlayStation VR headset – expected to be priced at $499 – compete directly against the Oculus VR Rift.

Oculus VR points out that while its device is more expensive, it delivers a much more realistic experience.

Virtuix Omni competes against the Cyberith Virtualizer, however Cyberith says the Virtualizer is capable of a greater input range from the player.

There are other options for the gamer for whom cash flow is not a problem.

According to an article on Gizmag.com, Tesla Studios’ Kickstarter for their Teslasuit, a full body haptic suit, went live Jan. 4.

The lower-resolution kit can be had for a pledge of £1,199, or about $1,770, and  the higher-resolution for £2,499, or about $3,690.

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