CES 2015 Video: Virtuix Omni

CES displays a staggering amount of pioneering tech every year in every field, and it certainly hasn’t disappointed the gaming crowd this year. The Virtuix Omni promises to take gaming to where it has previously been unable to tread – full virtual reality, right down to physical movement. Using a raised platform and paired with Virtual Reality kits created by Oculus Rift, the player’s running speed, actions and manoeuvres are recorded right down to the slightest detail. The system will reportedly be compatible with all PC games, with console support as yet to be announced. Watch the video above and discover more about what may be the future of high-tech, high-immersion gaming.

The system will be available in April 2015 at a price of $499, until February 2016 when this price raises to $699. Visit Virtuix to find out more.

Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove”: What the critics are saying

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“Of all the exciting, innovative products we’ve seen at CES this year, the Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove” prototype is unquestionably the best of the best,” Engadget, January 2014.

When you consider the international CES is the biggest annual consumer electronics and technology trade show, where more than 3,000 exhibitors showcase their most innovative products, Engadget’s Crystal Cove complement is really quite an accolade.

So what exactly is all the fuss about the Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ and should we believe the hype?

In the world of Virtual Reality, Oculus Rift has been dubbed as being the “next big thing.” Crystal Cove is the latest prototype in the Oculus Rift line up. This wearable gaming headset combines an ultra-wide field of vision with accurate 3D and, as Digital Spy is quick to point out, “unnervingly accurate motion tracking.”

The buzz surrounding the Crystal Cove stems from the fact that after twenty years or so of VR non-starters, Rift’s prototype looks to change everything, opening, as Edge Magazine states, “the door to a world of new design challenges.”

“Tickling our rods and cones,” last year’s CES “absolute highlight” was getting a first glimpse at an Oculus Rift prototype, proclaim Tech Report with similar excitement as a seven-year-old opening an Xbox 360 on their birthday. Naturally, being so ecstatic about the Oculus Rift VR headset prototype update at CES 2013, Tech Report was keen to try out the 2014 version.

Tech Report’s Scott Wasson acknowledged that Oculus thoroughly deserved their Best in Show for CES 2014 award, an acknowledgement based on what he’d seen through the goggles.

In an informative hands on review, Tech Report inform that Oculus’ first generation VR hardware came with a 720p LCD screen inside, which was the one on display at CES 2013. Later in the year, Oculus upgraded to a higher-resolution 1080p LCD, with the Crystal Cove making important inroads to its ascendants. The Crystal Cove is designed to overcome Oculus’ biggest challenge, to work well for everyone. Wasson continues that people can develop nausea, fatigue and vertigo after using a Rift prototype, a problem which is apparently caused by a disconnection between what your senses expect to see in response to the head motions and what is actually on display. The Oculus team have been working hard to “squeeze any latency it can out of the sensor-to-display loop”. Hence the Crystal Cove contains a 1080p AMOLED display, which, by delivering much faster pixel-switching time, can help quash the sensor-to-display interval.

A “spaceflight” experience

PC World was equally as impressed, noting the Cove’s rudimentary position tracking, which is implemented by way of an external camera and some fancy dots on the headset. Quick to belittle Microsoft’s “enormous motion-tracking Kinect”, PC World focuses on the Cove’s tiny camera, which is just a few inches long.

Sitting in a suite at CES 2014 rented out by CCP Games, creators of EVE Online, PC World’s veteran gamer, Hayden Dingman, endured his third iteration of EVE: Valkyrie, CCP Game’s dogfighting space shooter game. Operating from a room hired from CCP Games, it comes as little surprise EVE: Valkyrie was an exclusive Rift launch title at CES. Alongside Rift, the game has “grown up” says Dingman.

“The art assets and the Rift itself have upgraded since the last time I saw the game, making Valkyrie even more impressive. It provides an experience that’s closer than I’d ever imagined to my longtime dream of spaceflight,” continued the PC World contributor.

Oculus Rift may have bowled over the techies, journalists and editors at this year’s CES, it’s tactic as giving them as promo items was a shrewd move, but the company’s biggest challenge still lies ahead – getting the Rift into the hands of consumers. Oculus remains hush-hush about the Crystal Cove’s release date. One thing Oculus does state with diligence is “2014 is going to be a big year for VR.” With the Oculus Crystal Cove winning the Best of CES Award 2014, VR’s year has certainly got off to a flying start.

Check out this ‘hands on’ from the folks at Tested:

Quick look: Vuzix Wrap Virtual Reality Tracker 6TC

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If I offered to put an LCD screen centimetres from your face, you’d probably punch me in mine. Enter Vuzix, a company that makes its trade on doing just the. The difference, however, is that the company uses specialist glasses with high-density screens to give the illusion of distance. And now, with the Wrap Tracker 6TC add-on, the goggles lets you move the images on the screen as you move your head.

The video eyewear, the Wrap 920, is the basic product. Two screens, two noise isolation earphones (in three sizes) are mounted into a set of glasses that black your senses from the outside world. You’re then immersed in a world of stereo sound and simulated 67-inch screens, where gaming comes alive.

The company states that Wrap 920 makes you feel like you’re watching a huge screen TV from three metres away, which sounds great. The issue, however, is that those two LCD displays are only 640 x 480. This is super-high resolution for their size, but it means there’s potential for low-picture quality and certainly not HD performance.

The battery life is also a bit of a pain – a paltry three hours from 2 AA batteries. On the plus side, at least this limitation will cut down gaming sessions to a mroe health- and safety-friendly period of time (which is around an hour).

The Wrap Tracker 6TC is the real innovation. Once plugged in (it comes as a cute little chip), the assorted magneto-resistive sensors, accelerometers and gyro offer highly accurate head tracking.  For gamers, this means:

“The Wrap 920 VR bundle adds a unique 3D ‘in game’ element for PC gamers. When you hear the enemy coming up behind you, the ability to physically turn your head and view them or to be able to view the complete landscape of the game play zone offers the player a unique advantage over their game opponents.” – Paul Travers, Vuzix CEO

The Tracker 6TC is compatible with over 100 popular PC games, including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty, GRID and World of Warcraft. More can be found at the company’s website: www.vuzix.com/UKSITE/consumer/products_vr920_support.html.

The ability to turn your head to change the view in-game is a level of immersion that just isn’t possible with any other technology on the market. With the addition of the sound-isolating headphones, you’re able to totally leave the real world behind as you explore fantastic lands. As long as you can use a keyboard and mouse without seeing them.