We've already played with Oculus Rift, the unexpectedly brilliant revival of consumer virtual reality. The New Yorker profiles an experience that has gone from flickering headache to something oddly akin to scuba diving.
The Oculus Rift uses optical tricks to create the realistic sensation, like slightly warping the edges of the view in the computer, which is corrected by plastic lenses in the goggles. The pixels are more tightly packed directly in front of the eye, giving the perspective a roundness that feels more like human vision. It works. The Oculus Rift rivals—and will possibly exceed, when it hits the shelves sometime in late 2013 or mid-2014—the best virtual-reality hardware available, military-grade or otherwise.
My first memory of virtual reality was a segment on the BBC show Tomorrow's World in about 1990, featuring helmets the size, shape and weight of a granite curling stone. The second was playing the similarly-headsetted Virtuality arcade game Grid Busters, so terrible I felt scammed to have paid 50p for the pleasure. But like many millenials cheated by those beautiful lies, I think I'll be lining up when the Rift hits stores later this year.