There wasn’t only one face in the virtual reality (VR) crowd at CES last week in Las Vegas. Other than the obvious ‘Best of Show’ winning Oculus Rift prototype a company called GameFace Labs was in attendance showing off its latest proof-of-concept, the GameFace Mark IV.
Unlike the Oculus Rift which relies on a PC to do the heavy lifting, the GameFace Mark IV is a standalone gaming system. The headset is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 mobile processor and uses a Bluetooth gamepad (a DualShock 3 from Sony) to handle all of the game inputs. Inside the 3D-printed housing is a 5.2-inch full HD LED panel although the folks at GameFace Labs are planning on increasing its size in the near future.
Software wise the Mark IV runs on a customised version of Android Jelly Bean which added native support for Bluetooth gamepads from version 4.2 onwards. Because of its self contained nature the GameFace cannot match the scale of games possible on the Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype so the creators are planning on creating a curated Android store with a selection of available VR titles.
GameFace Labs are already talking up the potential for the Mark IV with planned retail availability before the end of 2014. The team has even begun having discussions with Nvidia as to the potential of using its recently announced 64-bit K1 processor in the final design.
There was no mention of battery life at the event but we can make a few estimates based on another Android powered portable gaming device, the Nvidia Shield, which runs on the self same Tegra 4 processor albeit with a lower resolution 5 inch display. Most reviewers managed around 10 hours of use out of the Nvidia Shield which sports a rather hefty 7350mAh battery and weighs in at just over half a kilogram. The GameFace designers will want to keep the final weight down as much as possible to avoid being uncomfortable to wear which will more than likely mean a decrease the size of its battery and run time.
Nevertheless the GameFace Mark IV joins the Oculus Rift as some of the big things in gaming we’re looking forward to in 2014.