Virtual reality is on the horizon

If you are looking forward to getting your hands on a final version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset which was successfully Kickstarter funded last year and is currently in its developmental stage of manufacture. You might also be interested in a new Avegant virtual reality headset which has been designed and will definitely provide the Oculus Rift with new competition in the marketplace.

Following in the footsteps of all headset virtual reality displays the new Avegant is fitted with dual screens
offering users WXGA 1,280×768-pixel resolution, with each one positioned in front of the wearer’s eyes to provide the next level of immersive gameplay and interaction with applications.

The design for the new Avegant virtual reality headset has developed from a request made by the military some years ago, who requested the development of a wearable thermal imaging device that can be worn in a similar way to a traditional night vision goggles.

Ed Tang, CEO of Avegant explains : “We’ve been moving very quickly.” The challenge had been getting the optics and the core mechanics of the device in place. Now, the focus shifts toward creating a device that not only is comfortable but that doesn’t look as embarrassing as the current version. Tang calls this “physical comfort” and “environmental comfort,” saying, “It has to look right and it has to feel right.”

The Oculus Rift, as amazing as it is, has a significant hurdle to cross before it will gain true mainstream acceptance, given its propensity for giving people motion sickness. The Avegant Virtual Retinal Display headset could be even more difficult for the layman to warm to — it wants to beam light directly into your eyes.

Looking worryingly like a prop from The Lawnmower Man, it’s aiming to deliver a more natural viewing experience — rather than using mini LCD screens in front of your eyes, it’s closer to having two projectors beaming straight into your peepers. Given that our entire vision is based upon light being reflected into our eyes, it’s said to result in far less eye-fatigue when viewing its 3D imagery. To work, the retinal projection has to be lined up with your eyes incredibly accurately, so the headset offers plenty of ways to fit the unit comfortably to your face.

While the aim is to have a consumer product eventually, the Virtual Retinal Display is still very much in the prototype stages. Looking to launch in 2014, it’ll be interesting to see whether its video delivery mechanism or the LCD screens of the Oculus Rift prove most popular.