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Open Source Virtual Reality Headset Hacker Development Kit Will Be Available For Preorder On Oct. 1

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Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) has unveiled its new prototype virtual reality headset, which will become available for preorders starting Oct. 1.

Unlike other headsets in the nascent VR industry, which are set to be launched as consumer products in 2016, the OSVR headset takes a different route by offering open source hardware and software for developers and VR enthusiasts. The goal is to provide others a platform to develop the technology and VR content instead of limiting it to a handful of companies equipped with tons of financial resources to work on the technology, akin to being the Android of VR.

The new prototype, called the OSVR Hacker Development Kit (HDK), finally comes out of its beta status and will be available for $299. The upgraded headset will include a number of notable improvements, including support for persons with uneven eyesight so they can still use the headset even without wearing their glasses. OSVR also says the HDK will maintain its "highly acclaimed picture quality."

The headset also comes with a sizable software update, which is mostly a technology called OSVR Render Manager that will reduce latency during rendering. The update also includes support for NVIDIA's Gameworks VR package to deliver three specific benefits: direct mode, which allows the PC to directly recognize the device as a VR headset instead of a monitor, front render buffering, which enables the GPU to render directly to the front buffer, and context priority, which provides support for GPU scheduling.

"Our work with NVIDIA is a key step towards achieving our goal of providing developers with a comprehensive infrastructure that allows creating high-performance VR and AR (augmented reality) experiences regardless of the particular operating system, HMD platform, game engine or input peripherals," says Yuval Boger, CEO of Sensics, one of the more than 200 companies that have thrown their weight behind OSVR.

Other companies also involved in the initiative include Oculus VR, Razer, Leap Motion, Ubisoft, TrinityVR and a whole host of indie VR development companies. Along with the new HDK, OSVR also unveiled a new content discovery platform that offers relevant content, from 360-degree media to VR games, curated from its growing network of supporters.

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