Razer wants a piece of virtual reality. Here at CES, the company has its very own VR headset to help stake that claim. Why yes, it does look just like an Oculus Rift developer kit!
But Razer isn't staking the claim you'd expect. This isn't an Oculus competitor, CEO Min-Liang Tan tells me. This is a $US200 development kit, and it's designed to complement the Rift developer kit as part of a new open-source initiative. Open Source Virtual Reality, or OSVR for short, is a Razer-led initiative to help jumpstart the slow-moving VR ecosystem. (Remember, Oculus Rift developer kits are still short on supply.) Because what Razer really wants to do is what it's done since day one: sell gaming peripherals.
"We will create a huge playground for devs to immediately start sifting the best technologies and platforms," Tan tells me, pointing out that multiple would-be headset vendors are on board. Oculus and Sony aren't among them, but OSVR will provide a plug-in for the Oculus Rift developer kit anyhow.
In fact, Tan says game devs won't need to buy his developer kit even if they want one: the software and hardware both will be open source. It's just an option if they want to speed along the process.
While I can't tell you whether the headset's any good until I actually try a working model later today, the spec sheet suggests it will be pretty middle-of-the-road. Razer is rather proud of the optics, which use two elements for lower distortion than the Oculus DK2, and also have a pretty nifty system which lets you adjust each eye's focus and interpupillary distance independently.
But those optics are paired to a 5.5-inch 1080p panel that only runs at 60Hz and offers an approximate 100-degree field of view to start and though it has a basic sensor package of accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, there's no camera for accurate positional tracking like the Oculus DK2.
Still, it's too early to say. Check back later and I'll tell you whether the OSVR headset looks like where the next generation of VR games might be created.