PC peripherals’ Razer have announced themselves as advocates for open-source virtual reality, with a surprise showing at CES 2015.
A a Razer representative told Tom’s Hardware, developers are hesitant to support a single, proprietary standard, recognizing that to do so would be to hand over control of the VR industry to a single company. (The company being referenced is, of course, the now Facebook-owned Oculus.)
In response to this worry, Razer (alongside Ubisoft, Gearbox, Leapmotion, Sixense, and others) is supporting the OSVR, an Open Source Virtual-Reality standard, the goal of which is to provide hardware and software support for virtual reality gaming. This includes support for head-mounted displays (HMDs), game controllers, software engines, and device plug-ins across all operating systems.
Razer has designed a generic VR HMD in accordance with the OSVR standards that it calls the Hacker. The Hacker is not a prototype but a modular, customizable, configurable development tool, which has a sensor hub with integrated accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass; a 5.5″ full HD display capable of 1080p at 60 FPS; and an optics module that uses a two-lens setup for eye pressure relief and minimal distortion.
Since the headset is open-source hardware, Razer has made both the schematics and the 3D files freely available for download: people will be able to make it themselves.
Uniquely, the model uses a USB 3.0 belt box module, featured below, which significantly improves cable management over having wires connect directly to the user’s head.
Those without the know-how or equipment will be able to buy the Razer’s Hacker Dev kit for just $200, which is $100 less than the Oculus currently costs. At that price, it’s unlikely that Razer will be making money from the Hacker; the team is apparently genuinely enthusiastic about an open virtual reality.
Razer expects the headset to begin shipping by June.
CES isn’t usually a hub for gaming news, but Razer’s presence this year has made the event newsworthy, gaming-wise. Apart from the OSVR endeavor, Razer also unveiled the results of its collaboration with Google, the new Forge TV console.