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SXSW 2014: Immersive Headsets Really Becoming a Reality

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Virtual reality video gaming is about to hit the masses in a big way and some titles set to launch soon may seriously blur the line between the real world and the digital one. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

If there is a darling of this year's SXSW Interactive Festival this may very well be it: The Oculus Rift, a headset that seems poised to usher in true virtual reality experiences to the masses when it launches (rumored to be later this year or early next). Disclaimer here, the dual images being fed to each eye are for a 3D effect. And as if seeing video games all around you isn't realistic enough, we're seeing plenty of fully body experiences using the Oculus Rift as just one part. For instance, take Paperdude VR, where users ride a real bike to power a virtual bike in the game all the while tossing newspapers to customers.

"It brings like pretty much an unreal level of immersion, you really feel like you're right in the middle of that neighborhood," explains John Bolton of Globacore Interactive.

With the Omni, users wearing an Oculus Rift can run in their living room in order to run in the game without really running into their TVs.

"It is a 360 omnidirectional treadmill that allows your immerse in virtual platforms basically the Omni has 40 capacitative sensors built within the base that allows it to track not only your feet movement but whether you're jumping, running, sprinting, strafing," says Lorenzo Adams of Virtuix Omni.

And some folks at MIT's Media Lab figured out a game with the Oculus that requires running in the virtual world and also running in the actual world. Called Case and Molly, it's inspired by William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer.

"It's a collaborative game for two people one of them running around the street streaming their point of view in 3D, the other one watching their point of view from back inside on an Oculus Rift VR headset and guiding them through a series of locations," says Greg Borenstein of MIT Media Lab.

Though, because the immersive view the Oculus Rift wearer is seeing is not being controlled by their own movements, but rather they're at the mercy of their co-player out on the streets. Those prone to motion-type sickness may want to sit this one out.

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