Oculus Rift - the VR headset Carmack showed at E3 - Kickstarted into dev kit production

Tyler Wilde at

The Oculus Rift -- a virtual reality headset which began as a garage project by VR-enthusiast Palmer Luckey -- is one step closer to being in your home and on your head. Oculus created a $250,000 Kickstarter campaign to acquire capital for the production of developer kits, and it's already achieved a balance of $445,844 with 30 days to go. That's momentum.

It helps when you have Gabe Newell "strongly encouraging" everyone to support the project, John Carmack calling it "the best VR demo probably the world has ever seen," and Cliff Bleszinski proclaiming himself "a believer." The Rift's powerful and influential backers are forward-thinking people (Gabe Newell is an especially accomplished predictor), which is a hint that head-mounted displays are on for real this time -- the cyberspace dreaming of the '80s and '90s is going practical.

The Rift is lauded for its low-latency head tracking and face-consuming field of view, as well as its potential price. It's not as if good VR goggles are non-existent, they're just not something you impulse buy on Amazon, and what's available for consumers doesn't tick all of Oculus' gaming-centric boxes.

The $599.99 Wrap 1200VR is designed as a "virtual display," meaning that it projects "75-inch widescreen display, as seen from 10 feet." That's not what we're hearing about Oculus' headset, which is supposed immerse us in a world with a 110-degree diagonal FOV. The same goes for Sony's higher-resolution HMZ-T1 Wearable HDTV, which advertises a 45-degree FOV and doesn't feature head tracking. Even the $1799 Z800 3DVisor quits at 40-degrees diagonal FOV.

The Rift's consumer price hasn't been set yet, but while the Kickstarter campaign is running, you can secure an assembled developer kit for $300. That price doesn't predict the consumer price -- smaller and larger backers are subsidizing these kits -- but it's not a bad sign.

The Rift dev kits are estimated to be delivered this December, and include a copy of Doom 3: BFG Edition, the first Oculus-compatible game. John Carmack's involvement in the project led to a demonstration of Doom 3 with Oculus at E3 in June, and the responses I've seen have ranged from positive to "OMG." For more about the technology, have a look at our coverage of that demo, complete with lots of over-our-heads Carmack talk.