Exclusive interview: GameFace Labs’ Ed Mason discusses his company’s self-contained virtual reality gaming system powered by NVIDIA Tegra.
By Patrick Shaw | 04-23-2014 | 11:05AM
Virtual reality gaming has existed in various forms for a couple of decades. It is only recently, however, that the industry is starting to see the medium as a legitimate means of delivering new levels of immersion within games.
Ed Mason, founder and CEO of GameFace Labs, explains what makes GameFace different from other head-mounted virtual reality platforms and why VR is experiencing a renaissance as of late.
“The first time VR came around, it was something people could only try at theme parks, military facilities or arcades,” Mason says. “Everyone could see the potential, but was waiting for it to become a viable commercial product.”
Mason believes the recent rise in popularity of virtual reality can actually be attributed to the acceleration of the smartphone market, which he says has more in common with virtual reality than you might think.
“Since [head-mounted displays] have a lot more in common with mobile phones than they do with TVs for example, this has meant a number of components central to low-latency VR have now become much more accessible, and much cheaper,” he explains.
One of the more surprising things we learned about GameFace is that its head-mounted display (HMD) is entirely wireless and does not require a PC or console. This means that you’ll have everything you need to start playing right out of the box.
“Having a cable dangling from your head, tethering you to a stationary machine is one of the biggest immersion breakers out there,” Mason says.
Immersion, as Mason explains, is at the heart of what makes virtual reality an exciting way to connect players to video game worlds. He believes it has the potential to completely change the relationship between the player and the game by removing a layer of abstraction.
The current GameFace prototype features an NVIDIA Tegra series processor under the hood. Mason explains why they turned to NVIDIA to power the GameFace with next-gen technologies like the Kepler-based Tegra K1 mobile processor.
“As soon as NVIDIA made the move to mobile we knew they would focus on gaming and push the limits of what was possible when it came to mobile graphics,” he says. “Their K1 superchip allows us [to do] some truly awesome things with mobile VR.”
Mason adds that the final consumer version of GameFace will ship with the latest mobile GPU available at launch.
“We have a few K1 consoles in the office,” he says, “and we’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re building one of our next prototypes around it.”
GameFace Labs are committed to making further improvements to the GameFace hardware before launch such as the latest prototype’s recently upgraded 2560 x 1440 panel. Mason promises there are a number of other significant enhancements to come.
“Since we aren’t putting a date on the retail device yet, it’s likely that much of our device will change before then as we are always thinking of ways to make it better whilst the tech is moving forward at warp speed,” he says.
If you would like to stay on top of GameFace’s development, you can visit its official website here.