Michael Abrash, Valve head of research and development, said he thinks that a virtual reality headset ready for consumer purchase could be ready as soon as 2015, according to a report today from VG 24/7.
In a speech during Steam Dev Days last week, as reported by USA Today, Abrash said the tech could make its way to the marketplace within a few years if the tech can clear some hurdles.
“Haptics, 3D-audio, body tracking and input are going to be huge positives for presence, and they’re bigger and harder problems than head-mounted displays,” Abrash said. “I’m confident that that work will happen soon, now that we’ve demonstrated what’s possible, and if that happens, it should be feasible to have these head-mounted displays on the market within a couple of years.”
And when the VR headsets do make its way to consumers, Abrash said it could leave a mark so deep that it would “transform the entire entertainment industry.”
“It’s the sense of being someplace else while in virtual reality; many people feel as if they’ve been teleported,” Abrash said. “Presence is an incredibly powerful sensation, and it’s unique to VR; there’s no way to create it in any other medium.”
Abrash pointed to latency and bandwidth issues with other mediums like TV, movies, streaming and “anything that lacks lots of local compute power” as why head-mounted displays will be the only virtual reality displays that would live up to a consumer’s expectations.
In December, virtual reality head set Oculus Rift made a significant stride in bringing its product to consumers as investment firm Andreessen Horowitz dropped $75 million into the project.