In the early '90s, gamers dreamed about playing their favorite games with virtual reality headsets. However, because VR was always so expensive, the dream of thousands of gamers died quickly. Over the past two decades, manufacturers continued to build VR headsets, but the price remained high, and most people ignored the technology entirely.
Then, a few years ago, the Oculus Rift came to Kickstarter, promising latency-free virtual reality at an affordable price. Today, various game developers are optimizing their games for VR headsets, and even Sony wants to bring VR to its video game console. These three virtual reality devices could have a significant impact on the future of home entertainment.
When Oculus VR started its Kickstarter campaign to build the Rift, the manufacturer asked for $250,000, believing that would be enough to create an affordable VR headset for a niche market of gamers. However, once people saw what the Rift was capable of, the Kickstarter campaign raised nearly 10 times its goal: $2.4 million. The Oculus Rift has seen many improvements, but it still isn't available on commercial shelves. In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion, and now consumers can expect a commercial launch in 2015.
However, it's unlikely that the Rift will come to home consoles, and only PC gamers will enjoy this incredible device. Fortunately, Sony announced that it is also working on a virtual reality device, Project Morpheus. This PlayStation 4 peripheral works with the PlayStation Camera to let players escape into virtual worlds. Unfortunately, while many have tested the physical prototype and enjoyed the experience, Sony has not offered an official release date for the PS4 peripheral.
No official price has been stated for either virtual reality device, but based on the current cost for an Oculus Rift developers kit, we can predict that the consumer model will cost about $350. Sony has only stated that the Project Morpheus will not cost $1000. Usually, video game console peripherals cost between $60 and $100, but with the high price of virtual reality technologies, it's possible that Project Morpheus could launch at close to $400, the same price as the PS4 itself.
If those prices are too hefty for your taste, Google revealed its take on VR: Cardboard, a free app that splits your smartphone's perspective in half and displays an image for each eye. The real genius of Cardboard is its do-it-yourself casing. You can download the plans, build your own device, install the app on your smartphone and start using Google Cardboard today. At this point, there are few apps that utilize Cardboard, but we love the idea and hope that it will force Oculus VR and Sony to offer their VR headsets at a lower price.
With the new advent of affordable virtual reality, we are one step closer to owning a Holodeck.