In case the $2 billion sale of Oculus VR to Facebook wasn't any indication, we'll come out and say it: virtual reality headsets are going to be a big talking point in 2014. The Oculus Rift is only going to continue to gain steam and now Sony has thrown their hat into the ring with the introduction of Project Morpheus, a PS4-focused VR headset that was unveiled at GDC late last month.
However, while it might seem like the VR market is already leaning towards oversaturation, especially considering none of these devices are actually for sale yet, there looms another major company who is reportedly considering a foray into VR. We speak, of course, of Microsoft who, it is now reported, spent some $150 million to purchase augmented reality assets.
This isn't the first we have heard of a potential Microsoft VR headset, but it is the most substantial piece of news thus far. According to Tech Crunch, Microsoft quietly secured a licensing deal with the Osterhout Design Group, a company that specializes in wearable, augmented reality devices mostly for the government. Not for weapons, mind you, but for real world applicable devices — things that "can help people do their jobs."
One patent of ODG's that is of particular interest is one for a combo glasses and watch peripheral, which can be seen in the image above. While it's not entirely one-to-one - these are augmented reality glasses - this particular set-up could be tweaked to incorporate the Kinect 2.0.
Obviously, Microsoft is not going to come right out and say what they plan to do with ODG's assets, but the recent VR headset rumors suggest they might be exploring an option for the Xbox One. That or they think this licensing deal could be lucrative in terms of its intellectual property. Either way, you have to imagine that Microsoft wouldn't spend $150 million on something they don't plan on actually
When rumors first broke of Microsoft's potential VR headset tests, we suggested that they lay low and let Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus do the heavy lifting. Let them suss out what fans really want, so to speak.
But, now that Facebook has snatched up Oculus VR, and fans have been none too happy about it, Microsoft might be better served unveiling their virtual reality plans sooner rather than later. If gamers are jumping ship, might as well give them another life boat option.
Do you think Microsoft should unveil a VR headset? How would you like to see their device set itself apart from the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus?
Source: Tech Crunch