Razer OSVR – Democratic Approach to Virtual Reality

On January 6th, 2016 Oculus has announced the price on the pre-order of Oculus Rift and the price tag made many people angry, people are already starting to call it “one percent’s toy”.

The majority of VR community expected the cost to be around $350 and even that was
quite a splurge, given that you would have gotten only headset with the release of Oculus Touch delayed until the end of this year. Apart from $600 for the Oculus Rift itself, you will need serious hardware to use it, which is not cheap as well: for instance, the price tag for NVIDIA GTX 970 is around $400 – and that’s only the video card.

However, there are those VR fans that are not surprised at all with such turn of events. They think that it was to be expected from a multi-billion company that almost monopolized the Virtual Reality market thanks to the hype surrounding the headset release.

OSVR to the Rescue!


This is where Razer OSVR comes in and swipes the VR developers’ community off their
feet. OSVR stands for Open Source Virtual Reality. In order for you to have a better understanding of this notion let’s just say that if Oculus Rift can be compared to iOS, Razer OSVR is the closest thing to Android in terms of VR. Razer is developing OSVR in collaboration with Sensics.

Razer OSVR Open Source Virtual Reality


One OSVR to unite and standardize them all:


Their idea is to make virtual reality accessible to everyone, which is why, you can actually build a headset yourself or if you don’t have the means – simply order it from Razer for only $199. Creators want OSVR to be open source hardware and open source software. Razer OSVR is developed to be a universal device and software that will set a new unified standard to all the VR and motion-tracking devices that are currently available on the market (Leap Motion, STEM System, Hydra and others).

Specs for the Hacker Dev Kit, released in June 2015:


Given the approachable price tag of $199, OSVR is surprisingly qualitative and robust. It can boas Full HD (1920x1080) OLED screen showing 60 frames per second, a gyroscope, 2x USB 3.0 ports, compatibility with Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux. In terms of weight, OSVR can definitely be called the lightest VR headset currently available on the market.

Specs for the OSVR Motion Tracking Device


Concerns about the Razer OSVR open-source approach:


While the overwhelming majority of developers salute the democratic open-source approach of Razer’s OSVR, some still express concern whether the company will withstand the competition of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. There is no doubt that developers will eagerly work with OSVR, but will Razer and Sensics be able to support all of them, or at last a part of them – that remains to be seen.

As a rule only about 30% of the projects, developed using open-source software and/or hardware see the light of day. Nevertheless, Razer is confident that new unified standard will provide better opportunities for developers to create projects compatible with all VR and motion-tracking devices, available on the market.

Conclusion:


There can be no mistake – 2016 will be the year of Virtual Reality, but how will it take off – that remains to be seen. Oculus Rift turned out to be a disappointment price wise, targeted for the precious few of us, who have enough funds to indulge in it. Therefore, Razer OSVR has a decent chance to be perceived not only as a viable rival to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but also as an affordable way for any of us to experience Virtual Reality.

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