Dear gamers, please rejoice as companies are taking this game business seriously than ever. Not some long ago, the gaming thrived upon the content. Now, the presentation gets seriously amped up as the likes of Oculus (Now acquired by Facebook for $3 billion), Sony’s Project Morpheus (VR headset for PlayStation) and Samsung’s VR headset hit us right, left and centre. Carl Zeiss is also playing a major role in the development of the wearable VR headsets. The latest to join the Virtual Reality landscape is Microsoft that despite its bigger stakes is quite hush-hush about its entrant.
But that does not stop rumor mills to churn some stories, does it? Even Ian Sherr in Wall Street Journal has reported of Microsoft’s engagement with 3D VR devices and registration of one patent in the year 2012. According to him, the American multinational compnay has been working for VR project under the Portuguese name, Fortaleza or Fortress, if translated to English. The project has been described as building a series of experience for Xbox products and the patent has been filed as under, “multiplayer gaming with head-mounted display.”
But as per sources, Microsoft does not want the technology to work as a full-fledged VR headset but it would create an extension to AR, a technology that mixes real-life element with virtual-life. Sherr, is also of the opinion that the company may want to focus its resources on Augmented Reality to superimpose virtual animations over real life.
Microsoft was also quick to accept FOVE into Venture London Programme. FOVE created world’s first-ever eye-tracking display to be mounted on head and its entry into London program further ignites the speculation of Microsoft’s ambitious gaming VR project. The rumors also indicates that the Washington-based company might offer development kits of its VR headset to Fove initially and in return, may ask it to make Xbox One VR headset FOVE or eye-tracking compliant.
Moreover, as reported by TechRadar, the sources have confirmed the development kits have already been handed over. If this is any indication, we can expect the launch of Xbox One VR headset at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), in June 2015.
Earlier, this year in March, the Microsoft invested $150 million for the acquisition of Osterhout Design Group that is a smart glass specialist. The company is supposed to function independently from the tech giant and will help Microsoft to fetch patents and IP for AR and this makes the case that Microsoft Xbox One VR headset might be a take on AR and not a holistic VR technology. This also reminds us of Illumiroom project, now known as Microsoft RoomAlive, undertaken by Microsoft. The Illumniroom utilizes projected light to expand on-screen elements.
Though the company has been extraordinarily quiet about the launch and testing of a VR headset, the head of Microsoft Xbox Division, Phil Spencer gave us ample hints that the company is not shying away from exploring VR. He iterated that VR is an interesting area to explore for game and it is high time that the technology should see a paradigm shift as well as start playing a major role for both gamers and developers. He further went on to say that Microsoft team is toying with the idea of VR and is quite hopeful with the potential but is not in a position to announce anything officially.
Not just this, in an interview with Japanese Site AV Watch, Spencer has stated that he appreciates the investment done by companies like Sony and Oculus in the VR segment. While Microsoft is also investing in the same but since it is in the initial phase, the company has nothing to announce.
Upon asking if Microsoft is coming up with anything to compete with Sony’s Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift, he said that all the company has is skunkworks stuff that is not ready to be talked about or be a part of mainstream segment.
The VRFocus has stated that the developer kits have already been distributed to the top executives by R&D department of Microsoft and the response recorded by them has been overwhelming.
Release and Price of Microsoft Xbox One VR Headset
Oculus is selling its RK2 for $350 to a few chosen developers. The mainstream device for consumers will be launched by the year 2015. So, expect the launch to be happen by then and of course, the price point is expected to be in the same range.
For gamers, it is quite an exciting time ahead. After PlayStation and Xbox, Nintendo might also join the race of VR headset and if it happens, it might be the last one to join the league of Virtual Reality. Google’s Cardboard is a low-cost VR headset and Apple has reportedly asked app developers to create high performance prototype apps compatible with Virtual Reality systems. So, gear up guys!