Most virtual reality headsets these days follow one of two paths — they're either peripherals that plug into a PC or a gaming console, or they're hollow frames that users drop their smartphones into.
GameFace — for now, at least — is unique. The company behind it, San Francisco-based GameFace Labs, is building a fully self-contained virtual reality kit, using mobile components and the Android operating system.
But that's not the only thing that sets it apart...
The virtual reality hardware landscape is changing so quickly, it's hard to keep up. But one trend is already clear, with devices falling into one of three categories — PC and console peripherals, self-contained systems, and smartphone-powered headsets.
Here's an overview of what's going on with the all the major projects...
At SVVR Conference & Expo, GameFace Labs shared with Road to VR info on a new prototype of the mobile head mounted display that the company intends to show off at E3 next month. The prototype features a brand new form-factor, front facing gesture camera, multiple ports, and custom lenses.
The company's forthcoming Mark 5 prototype, which will be the first from the company based on the powerful Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC, will envelop the 2.5k display in a completely overhauled form-factor. The new design includes independent adjustments to both IPD and lens-to-eye distance, enabling the device to be worn without glasses or lens swapping. The new prototype will include custom lenses and no longer rely on a pair taken from the Oculus Rift DK1. An over-head strap has also been added.
One of the more surprising things we learned about GameFace is that its head-mounted display (HMD) is entirely wireless and does not require a PC or console. This means that you'll have everything you need to start playing right out of the box.
The current GameFace prototype features an NVIDIA Tegra series processor under the hood. Mason explains why they turned to NVIDIA to power the GameFace with next-gen technologies like the Kepler-based Tegra K1 mobile processor.
...As a person who's tried every single Oculus Rift prototype and walked away irritated at the display's screen door effect, I have to agree with Mason that a display with a higher resolution and super high pixel density will be a necessity for tricking your eyes.
The other key feature that the Rift suffers from is that it's connected with a long wire. As Road to VR's Ben Lang notes, the cable makes moving around tough as it can lead to tangled cords. On the other hand, GameFace is wireless, which is where all VR headsets will likely be headed in the future....
In the world of virtual reality eyewear devices, Oculus Rift is king. These snazzy glasses are like HD televisions you wear on your face that also have the ability to track where you move your head and translate that to in-screen movement for your avatar. The concept is killer, so killer that Facebook snatched up Oculus and their Rift recently for a massive $2 billion buckaroos. You read that right. Two billion dollars. That's a whole lot of pizza slices. Sony has announced their own similar device for use with the PS4 which leaves one wondering if Oculus will rule PC without any real competition. Not so fast, Rift. There is a challenger on your heels.
GameFace is completely wireless, which is a big must and which both Morpheus and Rift hasn't figured out yet.Lawrence Bonk - Crunch Wear
GameFace Labs may very well be the furthest along in the quest to create a mobile VR headset. Based on Android, GameFace Labs has been working hard to iterate on their prototypes, their latest is the first VR headset (mobile or tethered) to include a 2.5K display, with 78% more pixels than 1080p based VR headsets like the Oculus Rift DK2. And they've got even more surprises up their sleeve...
I've had the opportunity to try GameFace's prototypes on several occasions, and each time I have, the experience has improved.Ben Lang - Road to VR
It's freeing and intuitive to have a mobile VR headset where you can let the rotation of your body determine the direction of your virtual self. The same can't be done with tethered VR headsets like the Oculus Rift—where you generally always face the same direction, but use some form of unnatural input to rotate your virtual self—simply because you'd get tangled up in the cord.
The popular Android game Shadowgun looked great inside the GameFace, as did a modified version of a Sega Dreamcast emulator playing cult classic Jet Set Radio — showing off far more of the game than you'd have ever seen on an aging TV. It also could make for a fantastic portable private movie theater, easily displaying 3D movies in a virtual space, not to mention a 360-degree video where you can turn your head in any direction.Sean Hollister - The Verge
One of the big challenges that virtual reality hardware pioneers need to surmount is the convenience conundrum. Making sure that users can easily get their headsets on and into the experience quickly is crucial. One company is looking to take that a step further by completely cutting the cord with a self-contained unit...
...it has the best chance of any of the other experiences I tried at GDC to make a dent in the market.Mike Futter - Game Informer
The GameFace headmounted display is a completely self-contained Android-based virtual reality headset, so there is no need to hook up any other piece of equipment.
...We were able to try an Android version of the Oculus Rift Tuscany demo, a recreation of the boiler room scene from the movie Spirited Away and a basic first-person shooter. We also played with Dreamcast emulator with a hacked wider field of view that made it feel as if you were inside the game.
After attending the first day of the annual Game Developers Conference, the only games I played were in virtual reality. In the following four days, many, many more VR experiences will happen. Some will be good, some will be great, some will be not-so-great. One thing's for sure: when this week's over, the VR landscape will look very different...
Last week VRFocus reported on Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey stating that virtual reality (VR) headsets with embedded techology that weren't teathered to hardware was 'the future'. If that's the case, then the team at GameFace Labs has been doing some time travelling, as its Android-based, wireless VR headset, GameFace, is already well into development. VRFocus recently spoke to founder and CEO Edward Mason about the upcoming device...
While gamers are still preparing themselves for the next generation of console experiences in the form of Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, the industry is also looking even further into the future…at virtual reality. Devices like the Oculus Rift and GameFace Labs' Mark IV are already trying to assert themselves as a viable VR gameplay option...
...the appeal of any headset, be it the Oculus, GameFace, or Sony's rumored device will run hand-in-hand with the price.Anthony Taormina - Game Rant
What are your hopes for Sony's VR headset? Would you like to see something similar to or different than the Oculus Rift?
An incredibly exciting trend is the return of head-mounted displays. Although head-mounted virtual reality (VR) consoles have seen little success in the past, the Oculus Rift aims to change that by offering a 110 degree field of view, an ultra-low latency head-tracking system and immersive stereoscopic 3D rendering capabilities, creating intriguing displays with responsive, head-turning motion control. Other companies are also toying with VR headsets. Industry leaders such as Sony, GameFace and Valve have shown off their own prototype VR headsets over the past few months.
We're inside a crumbling space hulk, the black depths of space twinkling through the distant windows, disintegrating rifle from the future loaded and ready to fire. We spot movement in our peripheral vision. A tilt of the head - literally, not a shove of a thumbstick - and we turn to get a better look.
...a new prototype incorporating Nvidia's Tegra K1 board - it's a mobile processor with 192 cores of graphical oomph.Ben Sillis - Red Bull
You see, not only have GameFace taken a different route, using mobile tech to power virtual reality, not a hulking desktop PC nearby just begging you to trip over it, they've come from a different background...
A new alternative to Oculus Rift is in development from peripheral creator GameFace Labs, the company revealed during last week's CES in Las Vegas.
The GameFace Mark 4 VR Headset features wireless head-tracking gameplay that doesn't require connecting to a PC. According to Engadget, a 3D-printed prototype of the headset was shown connected to a DualShock 3 controller, although a number of games could still be controlled through physical movement.
During the CES 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, GameFace Labs was show casing their new GameFace Mark IV virtual reality headset similar to the Oculus Rift.
The GameFace Mark IV is equipped with a 5.2-inch LED display offering a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and its developers are currently in talks with Nvidia to possibly use the new Tegra K1 processor in the GameFace headset.
Even in its prototype phase the GameFace Mark IV can be used wirelessly without the need to connect it with wires to any external device. The GameFace Mark IV VR headset is Android based and connects to any Bluetooth controller to allow you to control your characters in-game.
After all the time we've spent with Oculus VR's latest Crystal Cove prototype last week -- our first Best of CES award winner! -- you might think we're all VR'd out. You'd be wrong, and when the folks at GameFace Labs offered us a chance to check out their Android-based, standalone VR headset, we jumped at the chance.
...it's incredible using a VR headset without even one wire running out of itBen Gilbert - Engadget
A platforming demo really sold us on GFL's headset: a snaking, thin platform must be navigated, and the DualShock 3 only controls forward momentum and jumping. To turn or look, you must physically move your head and body. Oh, and the world is floating in the sky -- which is terrifying. That last bit cannot be overemphasized.
The advancement in technology has allowed virtual reality gaming to become a mobile experience. Inspired by the Oculus Rift VR, the GameFace is one such device that intends to use the power of next generation mobile processors to bring an Android-based virtual reality experience to gamers at an affordable price.
What stands out about the GameFace is the complete lack of cables. Its wireless capabilities mean that the player can use it with any Bluetooth enabled controller. The GameFace already has support for over 60 Android titles.Shalimar Sahota - MCM Buzz
Editor Stuart Claw met up with Ed Mason of GameFace Labs at the MCM London Comic Con to try his hand at a prototype. Click play below to see what he thought of it.
When you compare the amount of power in a mobile device compared to a desktop, it's really amazing how tiny and cheap these things are. As mobile hardware gets better, it's eventually going to catch up with the graphical fidelity of desktops today. What happens when you have a chip that costs $20 or $30 and you can build that into the headset for a self-contained system, and you won't need any other pieces.
Palmer Luckey - Founder, OculusVR
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