Razer announced its open-sourced VR headset here at the CES 2015 and made its intentions very clear that it might speed up the transition of Virtual Reality from developer’s edition to mainstream. OSVR is an acronym and stands for Open-Source Virtual Reality. With OSVR, in the words of Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, he is hoping for the same paradigm shift that Google Android did for the mobiles.
Razer’s earlier project, Project Fiona is now evolving into Razer Edge, the world’s first computer-cum-gaming console. The Project Christine was a modular computer but could not see the light of the day.
The time, when Oculus was spearheading the VR movement alone, is over. Now we have experimental and cheaper headset like Google Cardboard and Glymph as well as expensive Samsung Gear. Sony’s Morpheus is also buckling up.
Be it hardware or software, everything in the OSVR is open-source. You can change what you do not like. You can tweak it and sell your own version. You can develop it for better future of the VR or just own it as a memoir of turning point in the history of VR. Your choice! Every detail regarding the OSVR is being released along with the company-made ‘Hacker Dev Kit.” According to Tan, he wants to push the development and does not want to leave the VR at the mercy of prototype versions as most of the companies in the VR section do. He expects the developer community to take the lead and play with it for the betterment to make it consumer-friendly. And not just the developers, Tan is hopeful that tech companies may also wake up and take a notice of Razer’s work and find ways to develop it. Coming from a company that till now has been known as an expensive and premium hardware maker, it sure is a pleasant philanthropic surprise.
The open-source software is supported by different games engines, control panels and head mounted display. Razer has enlisted several other companies like Virtuix and Leap Motion as supporters. The specs of OSVR may remind you of Oculus Rift DK2 as you will see a 1920×1080 screen, all-black box and about a 100 degree of field but in terms of function, it needs to be refined and flexible.
Please note that Razer VR headset is not a breakthrough in the VR nor does it claim to be. The Hacker Dev Kit is functional but unlike Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, it is not the pretty thing that sets on your head. Tan has already made it clear that the OSVR does not intend to compete with the establish players in the market, rather it aims to standardized the VR market. Valve, a gaming company is also experimenting with the same open-source VR software but has been very quiet of late.
The screen is 5.5 inch FHD, not the best in the town and there is a small square box to connect the headset to the computer, which is in a dire need of some positioning counselling. There are two lenses, one concave and other convex, which makes for a pretty good display by eliminating the blurry edges, the perpetual problem when one sees things virtually.
Release and Price of Razer OSVR:
The OSVR is expected to release in the year of June 2015 for just $99.99, which is $150 lesser than the Oculus Rift DK2 and about the same price as of screen-less Samsung Gear VR headset. The company is in the testing phase and we all can hope for the release to be happened in March at the Game Developers Conference. The apps running on it will be compatible with Android, Linux and Windows.
As there is not any consumer-version VR headset in the market and Samsung Gear VR being termed as a developer edition and Oculus Rift’s release a few months away, Razer OSVR might be able to get quite a following.