When I first heard about the Oculus Rift I was sure that Virtual Reality had finally made the mainstream. At $300 with affordable development options it was sure to take off. I knew why the Oculus Rift was cheap and that was because it uses cheap components! The components are cheap because they are already being manufactured in the huge quantities for the production of smart phones. So if the components are cheap, why don’t we build them ourselves?
First we have to think about creating the headset itself. To create a VR headset like the Oculus Rift (the current version, the next version will have some new bits!) we need a screen, accelerometer and gyroscope. All of which you will already own if you have a recent smartphone. You could simply buy a holder for your phone!
The Durovis Dive (http://www.durovis.com/dive.html) is simply that. Its worth checking with Durovis if your phone has the correct bits of hardware and is the right size. If you so happen to own a 3D printer you can print one using the opendive project files.
If you don’t have a 3D printer and can’t afford to buy a holder from Durovis but have a history of making Screwfix models you could try making a viewer using the instructions at FOV2GO, a project by the University of California.
For the Oculus Rift I like to make web based content. I’m not sure how you would send the tracking information back to Android/Ios browser if you decided to make one yourself. Working with apps isn’t so bad as Durovis have created a library for sending tracking information back to apps themselves, you can download it here for a play. There is also a Unity plugin which you can use, but obviously you need a version of Android that can create android/iOS apps which I think will start to cost you money. If you want software already made there seems to be a few apps on Google play that work with phones being used as VR devices.
I’m interested in where this is going to take us. I think the Rift is here to stay, it has a good financial backing as well as backing by some well known game developers. Perhaps we really are seeing the start of indie/do it yourself gaming devices. The Ouya and Gamestick might not have been everything we wanted, but with steam machines around the corner open consoles and accessories could be an interesting space.