FOV2GO: Open-Sourced Disruption
While it has been my 25 year goal to make VR a viable and accessible platform, the specific goal of kick starting such efforts began in 2011, when I made it a lab goal to ‘kill the Wide5’ with designs that could be made at consumer price points. Our research followed three threads, the first was to make mobile technologies work for VR, the second to find a low cost way to provide a wide field of view, and the third was to disseminate the findings in a way that would change the industry.
I worked one weekend to couple a set of LEEP lenses from my earlier BOOM display with two iPhones. David Krum repurposed the software from the HMP and we published an influential poster at IEEE VR 2011. While this changed some minds within the community about the power of mobile devices, it was not achieving the disruption I had hoped for. Our team, including Palmer Luckey and Thai Phan, worked to design the FOV2GO, making sure that attendees of the 2012 IEEE VR conference went home with VR in their pockets. We handed out hundreds of foam-core viewers in envelopes and won the Best Research Demo award – anyone could now do game engine VR on their iPhone or Android. But I was still not satisfied as the low cost saddled the design with narrow field of view lenses, users were not getting the ‘oh wow’ experience I was after.
I turned back to the Wide5 for the answer. After finding the immersive ‘sweet spot’ by simulating different fields of view, I turned to an old trick I used at Fakespace Labs to repurpose hand-held aspheric magnifiers placed backwards, coupled with remapping software. After many prototypes with Perry Hoberman and the team, we created a wider field of view FOV2GO-D, a design that changed how VR would forever be done. The Rift DK1 used the FOV2GO-D lens design and our remote drive display, coupled with remapping and optical tracking approaches proven on the Wide5. The first prototypes of the Samsung Gear VR used the FOV2GO-D optics, while Google employed a similar folded-cardboard design as the FOV2GO-A which has led to more than 1 million VR viewers.
Smartphone-Based Head-Mounted Display