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Open Source Virtual Reality
Osvr 1.jpg
Category Virtual Reality Devices
Developer Razer Inc. Sensics corporation
Announced January 2015
Released Developers: July 2015
Price 300 USD [1] (2015)
Operating system OSVR
Display OLED
Resolution 1920x1080
Field of view
Weight 650 g


Data available
Risk factor
Not Standalone

OSVR is a movement founded to create a universal open source virtual reality (VR) ecosystem for technologies across different brands and companies. It provides the freedom to combine different brands of head-mounted displays (HMD) and controllers to experience VR the way users and developers want to.

It is powered by a software development kit that is designed to allow developers to support all the hardware available in the ecosystem at a single go. It addresses the challenges the industry is facing such as hardware fragmentation, allowing to focus more on delivering high quality immersive experiences.[2]

In general, OSVR is an open source platform which aims to inspire developers and big name brands companies to push VR tech forward. Its objective is to be a software framework that sets new standards for VR. Like Android, it's an open licensed ecosystem (in fact, on the same Apache Software License 2.0 as Google's mobile OS) that developers can use to create VR experiences – or more specifically, VR games – across any operating system, including Windows, Android and Linux.[3]

The OSVR movement is supported by many sound names in the industry, such as Intel, Visionics, Unigine, Leap Motion, Sensics, and many others. Thus, even though OSVR emerged on the scene as an underdog, it has a potential as an open source platform of becoming a very strong rival of more established but closed VR platforms.[4]

Main Characteristics

OSVR has two main and independent parts: open-source software and open-source hardware. The open source software platform allows virtual reality developers to detect, configure and operate virtual reality devices across a wide range of operating systems. It is provided under the Apache 2.0 license. As for the hardware, it consist of virtual reality HMD called the Hacker Development Kit (HDK) made by Razer.[5] It isn't a fully-fledged consumer product like its rivals Oculus Rift or HTC Vive but a platform whose primary purpose is to get game makers developing content for the hardware. As a truly open-source project, anyone with Internet access can download the full schematics for the Hacker -- completely free of charge -- at www.osvr.com, along with a list of required components and 3D printer-capable source files.[6] However, anyone with the desire to try out the device can buy it as well.

The most recent model of the headset, HDK 2, debuting at E3 2016, boasts a 2160x1200 dual OLED display, respectable 90 Hz refresh rate and 110-degree field of view – a considerable improvement over its predecessor, the 1920x1080 OLED, 60 Hz HDK 1.4. The upgraded headset also features 'Image Quality Enhancement' technology for reduced screendoor effect and individual eye focus tuning for a sharp and clear picture. No glasses are still allowed though. The headset also includes an IR camera, giving users the addition of positional tracking. Being a modular headset, the HDK 1.4 owners are able to upgrade their devices to the new display without the requirement of buying a new device.[7]

As a headset for an open source platform, the HDK 2 offers a wide spectrum of possibilities. It already supports the Leap Motion hand and gesture tracking, while other features are still being developed, such as eye tracking, positional tracking room, Android and Mac OS X support, and even wireless streaming, which would improve the user experience significantly.[8]


As mentioned above, the OSVR is intended mainly for games development, but it also supports various media players as well as some other content.

As for games, pre-orders of HDK 2 through to 28 July were bundled with the games Descent: Underground and Radial G: Racing Revolved. Other games include the racing game RedOut by 34Big Things, self-explanatory Theme Park Studio by Pantera Entertainment, first person horror game The Hum: Abductions from Totwise Studios, the episodic Infinite by Project Gateway, and sci-fi gallery shooter A-19 by Futuretown.[9]

The media players so far are Bivrost, Littlstar, Virtual Real Porn, Vrideo, VRSE and YouVisit.

As for other supported technologies, these include Vireio Perception and Dolphin Emulator at this moment.[10]

Company & People

Razer Inc. (stylized as RΛZΞR) is an American company founded in 2005 by Min-Liang Tan, Matthew Thompson and Robert Krakoff, and headquartered in Irvine, California, which specializes in products marketed specifically to gamers. Razer is dedicated to the creation and development of products mainly focused on PC gaming such as gaming laptops, gaming tablet computer, various PC gaming peripherals, wearables and accessories. The Razer brand is currently being marketed under Razer USA Ltd.[11]

Important Dates

  • January 2015: the first model of the headset, HDK 1, was introduced at Consumer Electronics Show
  • July 2015: shipping of HDK 1 to select developers started
  • October 2015: pre-ordering of HDK 1 opened for the general public
  • November 2015: shipping of HDK 1 to the general public started[12]
  • June 2016: the second model of the headset, HDK 2, was introduced at E3, and became available for pre-ordering
  • July 2016: shipping of HDK 2 to the general public started[13]

Ethical Issues

There has been no issues noted with OSVR specifically so far. However, some general issues connected to VR in general still apply.

Health Risks

According to the user guide OSVR should not be used by anyone with a history of epileptic seizure or blackouts. It should also be avoided by anyone who habitually suffers from severe dizziness or motion sickness while watching TV or playing certain games. Consulting the doctor before using the hardware should be mandatory by anyone pregnant or elderly, and especially by anyone who suffers from a heart condition.[14]

In addition, children under the age of 13 should not use the OSVR HMD because it can purportedly affect their development. No matter the age, the usage should be regulated and taking regular breaks should be a matter of course, especially in case of the young ones.[15]

OSVR recommends seated experiences only.[16]

Public & Media Impact and Presentation

Since the announcement of Razer’s OSVR there has been a widespread talk going on about a potential rivalry between OSVR and Oculus VR, probably the biggest name in the VR arena at the moment. The Oculus Rift, which originally started as an open-source, DIY project from Palmer Luckey, has since evolved into a company that is still defining how open (or otherwise) the Rift will be,[17] which could make it less appealing compared to completely open (from hardware to software plugins and application programming interfaces) OSVR. "Oculus say they are open source, but they are not," said Luca Di Fiore, director of R&D at Razer. "They have done a fantastic job of getting VR on the front pages and their SDK is open source, but only for things that work on its hardware. On the device side they are locked."[18]

While Oculus VR is leading the charge with the Rift and its partnership with Samsung to create the Gear VR, there is really no unifying virtual-reality platform at this time. And that is the goal of OSVR, to make sure that all VR headsets and accessories will function together.

According to Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer, the company had talked with Oculus, which was apparently interested in OSVR and what the company was trying to do. Luckey, the Oculus founder, understands the importance of open-source platforms, and Oculus could indeed make its software and hardware compatible with OSVR. It will really come down to whether Oculus wants to retain a certain level of control and turn the Rift into an iPhone and iOS-like device with its own rules and stipulations.[19]

As asserted by Di Fiore from Razer, the company’s intent is not to become Oculus’ rival: "We don't want to compete with Oculus, we want to support Oculus. If a developer wants to use our platform to support Oculus, he can – already today you can do that."[20]

List of Developers Bringing Content to OSVR

Alchemy Learning, Beloola, Big Bonsai Games, Broken Window Studios, Bully Entertainment, Carbon Studio, Cat Interstellar, Ceo's Pet Software, Climax Studios, Coatsink, Corvus VR, DeepstreamVR, Descendent Studios, Digital Chaotics, Digital Happiness, Dilun Ho, Dolphin Emulator, EarthlightVR, F/LAT, Fallen Planet Studios, Fiery Things, Fire Panda, Galacta Vision, Gattai Games, Gearbox Software, Ghost Machine VR, Glowstick Games, Handy Games, High Fidelity, Honor Code, Hydra Interactive, IgnisVR, Immersive Entertainment, Incandescent Imaging, Incendiary Games, Jaunt, Kinoki 360, Koolbit, Legacy Games, MAG Studios, Mindfield Games, Minecrift, Narayana Games, Nevermind, NivalVR, Overpower Studios, Pixel Titans, Q42, Resolution Games, Schell Games, Seven Hills Games, Side-Kick, Sigtrap Games, Soverance Studios, Sparc Interactive, Studio Parabole, Surprise Attack Games, SurrealVR, Tammeka Games, Techland, Terranovita Software, The Andronaughts, Tiny Bull Studios, Toxic Games, Ubisoft, Untold Games, Vae Victis, Vertigo Games, Viewpoint Games, VR Bits, World Order Studios, YoutopiaVR



  1. Developer edition.
  2. http://www.osvr.org/what-is-osvr.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  3. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-osvr-guide-specs-release-date-price-680 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  4. http://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/osvr-hacker-dev-kit-hands-on/ (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Source_Virtual_Reality (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  6. http://www.tomshardware.com/news/virtual-reality-oculus-razer-hacker,28348.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  7. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-hacker-dev-kit-2-price-specs-release-date-667 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  8. http://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/osvr-hacker-dev-kit-hands-on/ (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  9. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-hacker-dev-kit-2-price-specs-release-date-667 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  10. http://www.osvr.org/featured.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razer_Inc (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Source_Virtual_Reality (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  13. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-hacker-dev-kit-2-price-specs-release-date-667 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  14. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/razer-osvr-hacker-dev-kit-1.4-review,4586-6.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  15. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/razer-osvr-hacker-dev-kit-1.4-review,4586-6.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  16. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/razer-osvr-hacker-dev-kit-1.4-review,4586-6.html (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  17. http://www.businessinsider.com/razer-osvr-the-android-of-virtual-reality-2015-1 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  18. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-osvr-guide-specs-release-date-price-680 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  19. http://www.businessinsider.com/razer-osvr-the-android-of-virtual-reality-2015-1 (Retrieved July 31 2016).
  20. http://www.wareable.com/vr/razer-osvr-guide-specs-release-date-price-680 (Retrieved July 31 2016).