VIRTUAL reality is the stuff sci-fi dreams are made of, but for one Haverfordwest man a trip through space or a ride on a rollercoaster can now be made from the comfort of his home.
Forty-nine-year-old gaming enthusiast Jeremy Hughes is the proud owner of an Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset – dubbed the next big thing in computer games.
Launched in March of this year, the headset was designed by 20-year-old American electronics whizz kid Palmer Luckey.
The lightweight headset works by splitting the original digital image from a game or video in two, warping it, then sending it back to two separate internal screens – one for each eye.
Once ‘in-game’, user can look up and down, from side to side, and and behind them, just like in real life – making for a totally immersive experience.
Jeremy has been following developments in VR gaming for years, and snapped up the chance to get his hands on this state-of-the-art equipment.
“About 30 of my friends have already had a go,” he said. “I’ve had people who are afraid of rollercoasters trying out the virtual rollercoaster and ending up having five goes!”
It is currently only available as a test kit – meaning existing games need to be re-programmed to work with the headset.
“A lot of games weren’t written for the headset, so the scale is often wrong, and things like hands appear to big,” said Jeremy.
The headset only offers low resolution graphics at present, which can make users feel nauseous, but Jeremy has not had any problems so far.
“The longest I’ve played it for is about three hours, and after ten minutes you don’t see the pixels anymore. You’re moving around as if it’s reality.”
As well gaming, Jeremy said the technology could bring fantastic opportunities for training and education.
"There's one program where you can travel among the planets; when you see the sun to scale like that, it is really emotional."
Asked whether he thought VR would take over from regular gaming, Jeremy said: “Once you start playing on this you don’t want to use a monitor anymore, it loses its appeal.”
A consumer model is set for release next year.