It isn’t commercially available yet, but the Oculus Rift is already a hit. Having sold 85,000 Oculus Rift prototype units so far, the virtual reality headset has been nothing short of a success. Even so, not everyone can afford the $350 price tag the latest developer kit carries. But what if you could have something similar to the Oculus Rift while paying remarkably less than $350?
A YouTube user named Ohaple has published instructions on how to make a head-mounted display that uses an iPhone or Android device as an external mirrored monitor. Once you build them, you can use your computer to play stereoscopic 3D games, which include Oculus Rift titles, game modifications, or even games compatible with TriDef 3D, a program that takes 2D games and plays in stereoscopic 3D. As for head-tracking, the do-it-yourself VR headset uses an LED to control your character’s head position in-game.
The point is to mimic the benefits of Oculus Rift without spending anywhere near $350. Constructing your own VR headset will cost somewhere between $20-$50, depending on how you source the needed parts and how meticulous you want to be. And if you are lazy and don’t want to build one from scratch, you can opt for the Durovis Drive.
The do-it-yourself Oculus building guide was written on Road to Virtual Reality and has a companion video. Ohaple also uploaded a follow-up video that uses gyroscopic tracking rather than LED tracking, which adds a higher level of responsiveness. While incorporating gyroscopic tracking tacks on $10-$20 to the total amount you’d be spending on a makeshift VR headset, it still doesn’t come close to $350.
You can view the LED tracking version below, with the gyroscopic tracking version further down.