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.
The display is a "a full HD screen" split between two eyes. The development kit, coming at the end of this year for an estimated $500, will have an upgraded screen. This is a very early proof of concept for that development kit, which means a retail product is likely quite a ways away, and could be a large step up from the hardware we demoed at GDC.
"I can’t say exactly what resolution [the final version] is going to be, but it’s pretty fucking awesome," Ed Mason, the founder and CEO of Gameface said with a laugh.
We played through a series of demos, including many that will be familiar to Oculus Rift fans, and the games can be controlled using any Bluetooth controller.
The fact that the demo unit was using the optics from an Oculus Rift development kit was hard to ignore. Mason was upfront about their use of Rift hardware. "We’re not hiding that," he said. "We’re not comfortable showing off our optics until we can get some protection on them. We’ve developed a slightly different set of lenses that helps with lens barrel distortion."
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.
Mason claimed that making your projects work on the hardware won’t be tricky. "We’ve developed an SDK that’s very similar to the Oculus SDK," he said. "It incorporates our head tracking, the dual cameras and it incorporates native game pad support."
The system is ready for movie files as well, and I was able to demo an empty movie theater environment where 2D or 3D content plays on the screen. You can look around, see the empty seats and enjoy the feeling of being inside a private high definition movie theater. You can access a variety of video controls by looking at a virtual remote control that rests on the chair next to you.
This is an early prototype, a proof of concept that shows what’s doable using today’s technology. The hardware was able to run almost all of the demos at a high framerate and with latency that was equivalent to the first-generation Oculus Rift development kit.
It's an interesting prototype. Removing the need to connect external hardware to drive the display and an estimated six hour battery life, depending on the brightness of the screen, makes this a virtual reality headset that could be truly portable. We're a long ways off from even a development kit, however, so right now it's merely another promising virtual reality product in the early stages of development.
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