'Oculus Rift could run as a self-contained system with its own OS'

Oculus chief technology officer John Carmack says VR headset could use Android for standalone experience
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The chief technology officer at Oculus has said that the Rift headset could work as an independent system in the future.

John Carmack, who was lead programmer of Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D at Id Software before joining Oculus, commented that he imagined the Virtual Reality headset, which currently works in a similar manner to an external display and requires being connected to a computer, using Android to run software without requiring any other technology.

"The way I believe it's going to play out is you will eventually have a head-mounted display that probably runs Android as a standalone system, that has a system-on-a-chip that's basically like what you have in mobile phones," Carmack told Engadget in an interview.

"Maybe that means you can only do Quake 3 or something inside there," he explained, referencing his previous work.

Carmack went on to say that while the headset would still allow use via a computer connection, the ability to operate free of an external device would give greater immersion to players.

"It does make a big difference not having a wire dragging off your shoulder. It's significant,” he said.

The Rift is currently only available as a developer version, with the consumer version, which will add 1080p HD support among other improvements, lacking a release date.

"A lot of the work at Oculus has gone into working out better position tracking," Carmack said of the fine-tuning taking place before the consumer version is released.

"It's one of the easiest ways to make yourself sick," he said, explaining the importance in removing the delay in head-tracking.

"Look at the floor and sway side to side. It feels like the whole world is penduluming underneath you."

"The tracking side is something that there hasn't been as much of a push for and we're frantically working on a lot of that, because that is one of the other really large issues. But we expect that the next developer kit will have higher resolution and position tracking addressing some of these significant issues."

Carmack added that a new version of the Rift’s developer kit would be released before the consumer model hits shelves, and will contain many of the improvements made to fidelity and quality.

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