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John Carmack Is Building a Virtual Reality Headset

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the hope-it-lets-me-rocket-jump dept.

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An anonymous reader writes "John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, is using his spare time to develop a modern virtual reality headset. After purchasing such a device last year, Carmack became frustrated with how slowly the technology has progressed over the past twenty years. So, he decided to push it forward himself. PCGamer reports that he's been showing off his prototype behind closed doors at E3 this year, and has an interview with him about the problems with VR and the technical challenges he needs to overcome. They even get a look at the prototype itself, which is currently held together with duct tape."

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118 comments

First comment... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236557)

Finally!

Re:First comment... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236707)

I've seen other AC first posts... don't act like you are relieved.

Very Pukey. (4, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40236585)

Years ago I bought a VFX-1 to play Descent2, Flight Unlimited, ATF-NATO and an old Helicopter game who's name escapes me..

From that I gained the insight that VR helmets are less pukey if you have a good solid controller in your hands. Heli games are better applications as down generally remains more or less down.

Until someone solves the puking problem VR helmets aren't much use. The problem was never a lack of pixels. It's lack of coordination between inner ear and visual as well as lack of coordination between parallax distance and focus distance.

Holy, Granoly! I can see the future of every ass! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236629)

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Re:Holy, Granoly! I can see the future of every as (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236717)

I also have something to sell, please buy it.

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40236679)

Let this be a lesson that new technology is supposed to be rolled out in pr0n first not twitchy action games.

I warned you! Now ya gonna get it! (-1, Troll)

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Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236799)

But I vomit after sex every time!

And sometimes during. And sometimes just thinking about it.

Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237733)

You are doing it the wrong way.

Re:Very Pukey. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40240209)

Then stop eating yo momma's nasty cooze!

BAM!!

Re:Very Pukey. (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#40236769)

That feeling you got was from the low optical refresh rate for each eye. Similar to the sick building syndrome where you have faulty fluorescent lighting ballasts. The Nintendo Virtual Boy suffered the same problem with its low oscillating mirror rate.

Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236957)

So, explain why my friends called these "puke goggles" when using them connected to an Xbox? They refreshed at a full 60 fps, just like any non-interlaced LCD TV does.

http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_eyetrek.asp

BTW: I had serial number 13, and I bought the things a couple of years after they were first introduced. Apparently, not very popular.

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

Peter Bortas (130) | about 2 years ago | (#40237021)

60 FPS isn't enough. Less than 80 degree FoV isn't enough.

Also, 60 FPS on Xbox? You'll have to pick very specific games to get constant 60 FPS.

Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238677)

Umm, sick building syndrome isn't caused by poor lighting, it's caused by out gassing that occurs naturally when a building is new. if they don't have adequate ventilation or there's too many toxic chemicals used you have people getting sick.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_building_syndrome

As for the goggles, I played around with some a decade ago and they were pretty fun, although, that was one of the full body systems from the '80s complete with the blocky textures.

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40238979)

I thought that was more due to the lag between moving your head and actually seeing the picture move. I remember trying these out a few times at gaming stores, and this was always the biggest problem as far as I was concerned. For the VR headset to work well, the lag between moving your head, and the picture moving inside the glasses has to be extremely small. I don't have any hard numbers, but I'm guessing something even as small 10 ms might be too much lag.

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 2 years ago | (#40237009)

So basically, what you think we really need to make a better VR helmet isn't more pixels, but a wireless helmet with enough force feedback to make your inner ear movements match the screen.

After riding some of the arcade-sized VR roller coasters, I'd tend to agree. The real reason the ones that do work, work, is not because of the screen, but because of the giant robot arm throwing the cage around.

Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238581)

lhx attack chopper?

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

Little Brickout (896529) | about 2 years ago | (#40239097)

Do you think your experience with a 17 year old consumer "VR Helmet" is still relevant today? 6DOF FPS like Descent2 make many people pukey even with normal displays.

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

stifler9999 (1184283) | about 2 years ago | (#40240839)

Was the old chopper game "Comanche: Maximum Overkill" How much did that game rock!

Re:Very Pukey. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40244859)

Comanche 3. (Looked it up.) The sequel IIRC. Only problem was the heli was invisible in VR helmet mode. It did rock.

I should boot that old computer up. It's still gathering dust along with an old set of controllers. Those very old games rock on an old 1Ghz (Needed an ISA slot and Video with VESA feature connector).

Re:Very Pukey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40241339)

They call it motion sickness.. I would suspect if they could create a holodeck and place you in it you may or may not have the same outcome. I would also suspect it is from the closed environment of the VR helmets, an example and something interesting to try since you gave me an idea. Would be to put you into a Heli simulator and see if you would have the same effects?

I would guess no!! The brain would have more visual, and ear references in a simulator then wearing a small set of screen displays and speakers on your head. I was joking around, when I mentioned it that way!! I would also lean towards no if you could use a holodeck to play video games as well, for the same reasons.

I never tried these I want to try one see how I would fair?? I have been on ships on the ocean, and in planes/Heli's and never got sick, so I would be curious if the restrictions of the helmet would cause any illness.

After RAGE (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236603)

I'd like to urge Mr. Carmack to consider releasing games that aren't crap, with bits of the map locked via code distributed with the disc to a single purchase.

I'd also like to commend him for releasing his previous engines under the GPL and being an all round cool dude otherwise. id's attitude with RAGE was such a contrast.

Re:After RAGE (2)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#40236795)

It has nothing to do with id. It has everything to do with ZeniMax. Just take a look at what they've done to QuakeCon. Never again will I attend a QuakeCon event nor will I ever purchase a title from any company owned by or affiliated with ZeniMax. Never.

Re:After RAGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236851)

Because they took away file sharing?

Re:After RAGE (2)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#40237949)

Yep, because they took away file sharing. It has nothing to do with the fact that they took an awesome fan-centric event created by and for the community and turned it into a profit-oriented commercial showcase (with a little LAN attached to it, too). Gone is the sense of meritocracy and individuality it conveyed. Gone is the enjoyment and the pride of attending and that which gave people the drive to help out and contribute. What I'm saying here is effectively gone is Quakecon. Enjoy your ZeniMaxCon, though.

Re:After RAGE (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40236827)

Please direct rants at the right people. Mr. Carmack is a programmer. He programs. He is not a producer, director, design lead, art lead, or really anyone who would be responsible for either the game being fun/not fun, or for business decisions regarding on-disc DLC.

If the game were to crash, or to run poorly, or to have obvious code-related glitches, then by all means, blame Carmack. But from what I've heard, that's not what the problem is. The game runs fine, even has some quite remarkable technical features (he streams textures directly from disc into video memory via DMA), but it's just not fun or interesting to play. You don't blame the writers for bad special effects, you don't blame the level designers for terrible voiceacting, and you don't blame the engine programmer for the game not being fun to play.

As an aside, I find it quite interesting that id's public face is essentially their lead programmer. Most companies, it's a game designer, or a writer, or in some cases an artist (or often some combination of the above - game developers wear many hats). I know of no other "public face" who is purely, or even principally, a programmer.

Re:After RAGE (1)

RedDeadThumb (1826340) | about 2 years ago | (#40237555)

I know of no other "public face" who is purely, or even principally, a programmer.

How about Tim Sweeney, Epic Games? In my mind he is the "other" Carmack. I can't think of one without thinking of the other.

Re:After RAGE (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40238657)

To be perfectly honest, Cliff Bleszinski seems more like Epic's "public face". He may not have started the company, but he's definitely the guy the gaming media prefers to talk to.

Don't get me wrong - Sweeny's an awesome programmer, deserves far more credit than he's given, but he seems too media-shy to be *the* Epic guy.

Re:After RAGE (1)

RedDeadThumb (1826340) | about 2 years ago | (#40244259)

Well, certainly since Gears of War that has been the case. I have been a gamer a long time and I guess I have seen more interviews from Tim than Cliff. I associate Cliff with Gears series more than with Epic. ID just hasn't put forward a more game-oriented personality for the media to latch onto. And let's face it, they don't put out new games nearly as rapidly as Epic. So Carmack comes out and talks about graphics and game tech instead. ID could really stand to find their own kind of game visionary to put them on the right track as far as gameplay is concerned.

Re:After RAGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40241467)

I would guess the "pros" that developed this technology initially did it to see what type of market they would get. It never caught on or people did not find any interest in it. If it would have caught on from the start or after a few years we may not even be having this discussion. You can look at other technology that was tested to see if it would spark public interest, that is as old if not older, while the idea is still around the public was not interested, great ideas/technology but just no market. Today?? There is not a large market for this VR technology

I think it is amusing how he put the thing together, not every inventors ideas, or initial assembly look like a finished professional product. The first few comments were over previous attempts at this that caused ill effects or were just poorly done by others.

I give the guy tons of credit for diving into this in his spare time, I would guess he did as much research as possible to get this done up the way he felt it should have been done 10-12 years ago. Considering it is a 20 year old idea, and through out that time they should have made some large advancements in this technology, look at hand held devices over the last 5 years, and everything dumped into those alone. The guys a programmer, he is not a complete idiot, why should we expect or stereo type someone who is not trained or experienced in this type of technology to stay out of it? If you did this to just about every inventor through out time we would be getting nowhere anytime soon. We already do that and it is 20 years later and VR is still a disappointment..

I wish guys/gals like this would be more assertive in inventing or improving upon something even if they are not educated or experienced in it.

Re:After RAGE (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40241569)

If the game were to crash, or to run poorly, or to have obvious code-related glitches, then by all means, blame Carmack. But from what I've heard, that's not what the problem is. The game runs fine, even has some quite remarkable technical features (he streams textures directly from disc into video memory via DMA), but it's just not fun or interesting to play. You don't blame the writers for bad special effects, you don't blame the level designers for terrible voiceacting, and you don't blame the engine programmer for the game not being fun to play.

It's interesting that you should mention that, since texture pop-in was actually a big problem with RAGE. It was bad running from my SSD so I can only imagine what console players had to deal with.

As an aside, I find it quite interesting that id's public face is essentially their lead programmer.

Perhaps it's because he's the only founder left?

Re:After RAGE (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40236849)

What was wrong with RAGE?
It was a dungeon crawler with a little car racing mixed in. What were you expecting?

Re:After RAGE (3, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 years ago | (#40237027)

What were you expecting?

An actual ending, not just a hook to the upcoming DLC.

Re:After RAGE (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40237383)

A fair complaint, but that is again not a gameplay or programming type problem. That is just publishers being publishers.

Re:After RAGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237605)

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Rage, best came from the last year. It was and is a very fun game. Artwork and graphics were stunning and breathtaking, also many think otherwise - I guess it is question of taste.

Re:After RAGE (2)

trptrp (2041816) | about 2 years ago | (#40237629)

I don't play much, if so then mostly shooters. RAGE was by far the best game I've played since a long time. I liked it much more then Half-Life 2. It made me realize why I prefer id software to valve: there's some crazyness to it that makes titles like Half-Like 2 appear almost sterile in comparison. In RAGE, the movements of the muties for example, the 'british' bandits and all this stuff must have been designed by people with really cool phantasy and I appreciate that.

Re:After RAGE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238823)

I'd like to urge you to give up your nerd rage and lose your virginity. Who really cares if you don't like what they charge for your video game.

My role model. (5, Insightful)

pieisgood (841871) | about 2 years ago | (#40236621)

Seriously, every time I hear what Carmack is up to Im never disappointed. I hope to emulate his productivity one day. Also with respect to VR, I wish him luck. VR has always been a bitch and I doubt it'll be easy. Though he could potentially push id toward devqeloping VR for the military and thus keeping id above water.

Re:My role model. (-1)

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Re:My role model. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237325)

Yeah he failed at rockets now he can fail his dumb ass at something else. Maybe he can try out for baseball next.

Re:My role model. (0)

tyrione (134248) | about 2 years ago | (#40237479)

Seriously, every time I hear what Carmack is up to Im never disappointed. I hope to emulate his productivity one day. Also with respect to VR, I wish him luck. VR has always been a bitch and I doubt it'll be easy. Though he could potentially push id toward devqeloping VR for the military and thus keeping id above water.

Outside of Computer Games, please list all these successes. John has money to waste so it seems.

Re:My role model. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238039)

Armadillo Aerospace comes to mind as his greatest success outside of computer games. His lander took second place in the NASA Lunar Lander competition (and arguably should have taken first).

Oculus Rift - 'low' budget HMD - soon@KickStarter (4, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#40236659)

Perhaps worthy of a mention - since John Carmack mentions it in several videos as well - is the tentatively named Oculus Rift. It's aiming to be a 'low' budget HMD, and a KickStarter project is set to be launched June 14th.

For more information, see:
http://oculusvr.com/ [oculusvr.com]
http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=120&t=14777 [mtbs3d.com]
( There are more interviews with John Carmack linked to from that thread, and he participates there directly as well. )

Re:Oculus Rift - 'low' budget HMD - soon@KickStart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236721)

I thought that the point of kickstarter was to help people without endless stacks of cash at their disposal, not fancy, fancy rich folk (regardless of how badass Mr. Carmack is/is not).

Re:Oculus Rift - 'low' budget HMD - soon@KickStart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236829)

But you get a fancy Live Strong bracelet and a laminated bookmark at the $15 level! It's win-win!

Re:Oculus Rift - 'low' budget HMD - soon@KickStart (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#40237193)

I thought that the point of kickstarter was to help people without endless stacks of cash at their disposal, not fancy, fancy rich folk (regardless of how badass Mr. Carmack is/is not).

Please note that the Oculus Rift (tentative name - I think actually they're just going for 'Rift' right now) is not John Carmack's project. He's simply showing a keen interest. I guess you could potentially argue that John Carmack could just throw money at them as an expression of that interest, but right now the people behind it aren't asking him to do so.

That said, I agree with your general sentiment - but I'd it's inevitable that companies with oodles of cash will use CrowdFunding or, more likely, CrowdSourcing platforms to do some dirty work for them.
Some people have likened KickStarter to essentially being presales, after all - so a behemoth like EA might use it to gauge interest in 3 different games and then assign funds and personnel accordingly, knowing that there's people who are willing to put forth money and not just random forum posts.
But that's speculation.

Re:Oculus Rift - 'low' budget HMD - soon@KickStart (1)

abuelos84 (1340505) | about 2 years ago | (#40236947)

Hey, thanks for the link.
Interesting project, and I specially like crowdfounded stuff like this.
Thanks again.

John Carmack (5, Interesting)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 2 years ago | (#40236677)

He's an amazing programmer that has done more than his fare share of contributing to the world of computer graphics. In a world where everyone is fighting tooth and nail trying to enforce copyrights and patents, he simply released the full source codes to the programs he wrote. That is altruism at its best and for that he is on the very top of my list of awesome programmers.

Re:John Carmack (-1, Troll)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#40236997)

Code dumps. How useful.

Re:John Carmack (4, Informative)

equex (747231) | about 2 years ago | (#40237695)

I don't know about the rest of Carmack's codebase, but I successfully compiled Doom 3 and disabled the serial key checker in the source. The code was well organized and I had most of the structure figured out within minutes. Great work. It's all there. Physics, lights, you name it. (except the reverse Carmack, it's replaced by a modified patch by him.)

Re:John Carmack (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#40237859)

Structure isn't really the important part. Knowing what everything does, both primarily and any side effects is what's actually hard about a code base, and why documentation is useful. Code dumps don't convey this, reading the code might, but then you're just generating documentation for them. And while reading the source is a fun thing to do in itself, for businesses and individuals/groups that want to use it to make something, it's important that information is available at a glance rather than after hours of analyzing source code. I would bet if you got a commercial license you'd get a really huge helping of documentation + direct access for support. I don't see any of that with the GPL releases, so they're effectively just code dumps. Interesting, but not terribly awesome.

Re:John Carmack (1)

cnettel (836611) | about 2 years ago | (#40238857)

I think you are missing how many open source projects that are essentially the same. In many cases, when you are actually interested in digging into the source, you are trying to do something that's orthogonal to the plans of the mother project. There might be docs, but in many projects, they are thin. Maybe not in the largest ones, mind you, but frequently written for either end-users or developers using an external API, or really internal stuff that's even less useful for an external reader than the code itself. The middle ground "orientation map and design guidelines for the internal architecture" is simply not there, most of the time. A code dump in itself is frequently immensely useful, especially when the license is permissive enough that you can use it for a bit more than just debugging fun and actually build on it yourself.

Re:John Carmack (1)

equex (747231) | about 2 years ago | (#40242269)

There were comments also, both about the code structure and some details. Not a lot, but I've seen worse. It was definitely a style I could sink into and probably get something done with the code. It followed the 'the comment is in the code'-mantra ,where everything is pretty much explained by good variable and class names. If you know game programming and maths/physics it will fall into place eventually. But yeah, it's not documented like it was an API or anything.

Re:John Carmack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237953)

It actually was to the communities that surrounded the games still. People still update and play things like quakeworld today. I'm sure more then a few curious programmers looked to see how things were done in the engines that were released.

Also all those early ID quake engine games were hugely modifiable, allowing people to make things from custom maps to actual gameplay code and come up with tons of things which spawned games like counterstrike, team fortress, quakectf, and even halflife. You don't see that anymore from anyone other than valve.

Re:John Carmack (2)

Timmmm (636430) | about 2 years ago | (#40238023)

Errr, yes... they are very useful! Are you aware how many games are based on Id game engines?

Re:John Carmack (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about 2 years ago | (#40240293)

Almost all of those are using commercial licenses. You know, the one that comes with documentation + support. The non-code-dump version.

Re:John Carmack (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 2 years ago | (#40238779)

He's an amazing programmer that has done more than his fare share of contributing to the world of computer graphics. In a world where everyone is fighting tooth and nail trying to enforce copyrights and patents, he simply released the full source codes to the programs he wrote. That is altruism at its best and for that he is on the very top of my list of awesome programmers.

What the hell are you babbling about? He's not Ed Catmull or dozens of other brilliant mathematicians, engineers, etc., who have extend theoretical Computer Graphics and GPU/GPGPU designs to make John's games more bit depth, and photorealistic shaders, etc. He's not writing the OpenGL Spec or OpenCL, or contributing to programming languages new features getting approved.

What has he actually brought to the World of Computer Graphics, other than demand improvements in OpenGL and DirectX for him to leverage?

Ok then! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40236687)

It's about time. This should have been done 10 years ago, and was but never made it past the novelty stage.

Instead 3D card makers and game makers kept stressing capabilities, making things as pretty as possible at 30fps, whatever that level of complexity was.

Screw that! I want 3D for a game I spend hours "inside" every day.

Re:Ok then! (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 2 years ago | (#40236775)

Novelty? Most don't get out of the prototype phase. Sega's VR Headset caused too many problem in testing that they just abandoned the project siting only "negative reactions to consumer" as the reason.

the googles, they burn! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#40236857)

You go first.
I really don't want to get retinal burn-in of something like this [wikimedia.org]! (not goatse, much worse.)

Kudos to whatever troll replaced Jaron Lanier's wikipedia profile picture with that of a Psychlo from the movie Battlefield Earth!

Re:Ok then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238759)

The problem with it is that it's not really necessary. All the ones I've ever tried haven't had the width of screen necessary to make it worthwhile. It would be a much easier task to just create a wrap around monitor and let the brain create the 3D imaging. It's not as bad as 3D done for movies, but it's still not as good as what the brain can do.

That being said, there are degrees, playing Doom via Doomsday definitely feels substantially more 3D.

Building the headset is the easy part (2)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40236783)

Building the headset is the easy part. It's creating something useful to do with it that's hard.

I tried all the first generation gloves-and-goggles systems, including Jaron Lanier's original one. They sucked. Lag between position sensing and graphics generation was huge; you turned your head and waited for the low-pass filters in the position measurement system to settle and the graphics system to catch up. That's no problem to fix today. You really need a frame rate somewhere in the 60-100 range, and, more important, you need low frame latency. A graphics card that's pipelining two frame behind won't do it.

The advantage of goggles is that, with the proper optics, you get an image focused at infinity and a wide screen.

The problem with gloves-and-goggles VR is that manipulation in free space without force feedback sucks. But Carmack is just using this to play Doom, for which it should work fine. (Basic problem with VR without force feedback: you can shoot stuff and drive, but not much else works. Fortunately, shooting stuff and driving covers most of video gaming.) More physically-oriented games, like some of the Kinect stuff, ought to be better. But you absolutely have to have the motion compensation good enough to provide a reliable visual horizon, or your users will fall down.

(The video is embedded in some cheezy ad container with three ad sources, and is considered hostile code by Firefox 12: "[Exception... "'DNTP Redirect Blocked' when calling method: [nsIChannelEventSink::asyncOnChannelRedirect]" nsresult: "0x8057001e (NS_ERROR_XPC_JS_THREW_STRING)" location: "" data: no]". Lame.)

Re:Building the headset is the easy part (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#40237061)

My opinion on desktop VR has been that really, the application isn't gaming, but just regular desktop productivity.

Most people spend all day wearing headphones or ear phones anyway, so a suitably light-weight helmet wouldn't really be that much of a burden. But with enough resolution, there'd be enormous benefit since you could do away with needing multiple monitors and instead just make the whole 180 degree or more space in front of you your computer "desktop".

Re:Building the headset is the easy part (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40237251)

A graphics card that's pipelining two frame behind won't do it.

Yes it will, because the human brain is more than capable of editing that much discrepancy out of your perception. In fact, a rather large portion of the human brain is designed to weed out those kinds of discrepencies and provide your consciousness with a consistent interpretation of reality.

Want some proof? Touch your toe with your hand, did you see the action before you felt it? Of course not, you perceived both happening at the same time. Despite the fact that there's no way the timing from all the nerve impulses and processing times lined up your brain just stitches it together. And because the best your brain can do is delay the slowest arriving input a tall man is living hundreds of ms in the past just by value of the time it takes a signal from his big toe to reach his brain. (At least when he's actively perceiving his big toe, it's possible the brain does even trickier things to reduce the latency by ignoring unimportant stimuli). Want another? Shift your eyes from one side of your monitor to the other, did everything go massively blurry? Probably not, but from a physics and biology standpoint it should have, the human eye moves much to fast to process the information when it's in motion. So the brain shuts off the input for that split second the eye is in motion, turns it back on, compares the new and previous image and stitches together a moving image that gives the consciousness an idea of what happened in between. A shocking amount of what we perceive on a minute by minute basis is fudged with by a series of filters in the brain that exist between our bodies and our consciousness.

Getting back to the point. A 2ms latency on the graphics pipeline (your 2 frames at 100 fps) is absolutely nothing that the brain won't edit out of your perception. Depending on the latency in other parts of the system, you could have a pipeline 50 frames deep before you have perceivable problems.

Re:Building the headset is the easy part (1)

cnettel (836611) | about 2 years ago | (#40238893)

Very good points, but an important correction: at 100 fps, 2 frames constitute 20 ms. Agreed, though, that up to about 50 ms should probably be acceptable, if jitter is kept to a minimum. A 60 Hz refresh rate can be to low from a jitter perspective, rather than relating to the latency itself.

Is anyone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40236875)

...getting a "Lawnmower Man" vibe out of this?

Gameboy + glasses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237221)

... I don't know why someone hasn't taken a small device like a gameboy advance and developed an transparent glasses/display for such things. I've often wanted such a device myself and since the gameboy has gotten so small over the years and display tech pretty advanced

Sony HMZ-T1 available now (1)

jcgam69 (994690) | about 2 years ago | (#40237227)

The Sony HMZ-T1 [sony.com] is a little more expensive than this proposed project, it is available now, and with a few tweaks and mods (try this AVS forum [avsforum.com]) it is a fantastic VR headset. With mods it is very comfortable to wear for long periods of time and the OLED displays are high quality.

Re:Sony HMZ-T1 available now (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237441)

He specifically tried the HMZ-T1, but he found it lacking.
http://superuser.com/questions/419070/transatlantic-ping-faster-than-sending-a-pixel-to-the-screen/419167#419167

James Halliday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237277)

I think i read a book about this

Heard those things can be dangerous (4, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 years ago | (#40237335)

According to an engineer who worked on the Sega VR project, [sega-16.com] there's a very serious problem with this sort of device:

There is a danger with HMDs: the IPD (inter-pupilar distance) must be properly set. IO Glasses gets around this by having a really big aperture. Sega had a thumbwheel to adjust the IPD. Here is the danger: if the IPD for the LCDs are wider than the user IPD, you force the user’s eyes to look outward. This is the opposite of cross-eyed. This can really stress the weak muscles around the eyes, and can cause permanent damage in less than 30 minutes. What I heard was the Sega lawyers brought up the liability issue on the eye damage. That is the reason I heard the project was canceled. Take it with whatever block of salt you want.

Re:Heard those things can be dangerous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40239523)

This is the opposite of cross-eyed. This can really stress the weak muscles around the eyes, and can cause permanent damage in less than 30 minutes.

I'll take that with a huge grain of salt. Every time you look left or right, you use the same muscles that you would use if your eyes were looking in opposite directions.

It has nothing to do with the muscles, instead the nerves.

NASA lab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237385)

he mentions “maybe hidden in some NASA lab there’s something cooler than this, but I haven’t seen it.” That's interesting since I work in a NASA lab that is working on a VR helmet that is considerably better specification wise than this helmet. We won't quite meet his $500 price point, but we are hoping to make it extremely cheap compared to systems of similar capability.

So the MAN finally steps back up (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | about 2 years ago | (#40237557)

Good to know Carmack didn't disappear with his riches to some virtual island he created by writing 3 lines of code.

On the serious side, if anyone should be at the helm in changing the way gaming is done, its Carmack. Unless he was on some crazy drugs when he thought up how to do real 3D with quake.. then we might need to all chip in and get him some new "inspiration." :)

Re:So the MAN finally steps back up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238613)

Er uh, he's been the lead engine developer for every id game since, er uh, ever. He hasn't disappeared, and he's spent his riches on Armadillo Aerospace instead of the Ferarri's he used to spend it on...

He hasn't even been out of the news, especially on Slashdot. Every GPL'd id release is under his direction...

Re:So the MAN finally steps back up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40238801)

And don't forget about his tendency to port older releases to whatever strange platform arouses his interest.

"on there", "on here" (1)

aussiedood (577993) | about 2 years ago | (#40237599)

Carmack is without doubt an intelligent guy, but I can't help being constantly distracted from what he is saying by his constant, out-of-context use of "on there" and "on here". A nervous tic perhaps? Not one I've noticed in other interviews I seen of him.

Re:"on there", "on here" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237719)

I noticed in a talk I went to once that he has a couple tics, it's a little distracting, but he has so much interesting to say that I got used to it.

Re:"on there", "on here" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40237757)

Stop being a wuss.

Re:"on there", "on here" (1)

Centurix (249778) | about 2 years ago | (#40238477)

The "hmm" has gone after each sentence, that was painful to listen to when he became more animated. I'd say some sort of speech therapy has been put into action over the years.

A brief tour of VR memory lane (2)

phrackwulf (589741) | about 2 years ago | (#40237677)

Courtesy of the Museum of Horrifying Technology, 666 Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IL.

"And this example right here is the SEGA VR headset from 1992, we like to call it "the Ringu" because any time someone uses it, a little Japanese girl shows up and kills them in an ironic and disturbing manner. We don't know why? Apparently they thought it was an important feature. Now over here, we have the VR headset that makes you go blind and bleed from your nose."

Good luck John. You're going to need it.

Useless (1)

Fuck_this_place (2652095) | about 2 years ago | (#40238433)

I'm surprised, well only a bit surprised he would bother with this. Even with a good VR headset, you still need an actual application made specifically for it. You will NOT be playing all the latest FPS games with it, that is for sure. You could, but does the term "keyboard warrior" ring any bells??? VR is a fucking gimmick as far as the head tracking part of it goes. The product "TrackIR" is probably as good as it's going to get. When he starts talking about holodecks, then I'll be interested. But then he has always been pretty disconnected with gamers. That's what everyone else at iD was for....

Which game? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#40239273)

Is he going to use any of his previous games like Wolf3D, DOOM, etc.? ;)

I tried one of those dedicated VR headsets in college. Ugh, they were heavy and annoying. It was a shooter game. I don't remember its name.

Honest question: 2 screens needed? (1)

fikx (704101) | about 2 years ago | (#40240693)

I've always wondered: does VR not work with just one screen for both eyes? I know there is important depth queues from both eyes, but I've wondered if there's some reason why a cheaper version couldn't be made with just one view point in front of both eyes, or even just cover one eye. Seems to me like it would still be immersive as long as the latency and tracking issues are addressed , like mentioned in the interview...
or would that cause eye strain and/or nausea ?

Re:Honest question: 2 screens needed? (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#40241571)

One of the greatest features of a VR HMD is the 3D stereo.

It's the best possible 3D stereo because you don't have the ghosting of monitor 3D displays. And if you can feed the dual displays fast enough, they can kick out frames at full refresh rate, unlike a monitor 3D display where the left/right frames have to take turns.
You can, of course, run an HMD in 2D mode (like when you are navigating your desktop) and it looks just like a flat screen.

It is the latency between your head movement and updating your view of the world that causes the nausea. More generally, it is the difference between what your inner ear says you should be seeing and what your visual cortex is reporting that causes (or avoids) the nausea.

Re:Honest question: 2 screens needed? (1)

bronney (638318) | about 2 years ago | (#40241857)

Another reason is that when things are this close to your eyes, you can't focus correctly and your eyes will cross and go wonky. Try holding an apple to your nose, you no longer see is correctly. Now try holding a fly to your nose, you still can't see it correctly. Yes?

VR Headset + Armadillo Rocket = (1)

slashmojo (818930) | about 2 years ago | (#40241971)

Awesome private trip into space without any of that getting blown to bits problem!

Lot cheaper too..

Duct tape? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40243233)

So I guess he DID learn something from DOOM 3? - rimshot

Duct Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40243247)

They even get a look at the prototype itself, which is currently held together with duct tape.

Red Green [redgreen.com] would be proud!

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