Skip to main content

John Carmack says Oculus Rift could someday run Android, offer standalone VR experience

John Carmack says Oculus Rift could someday run Android, offer standalone VR experience

Share this story

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset hasn't yet made its way to consumers, but once it does, chief technology officer John Carmack envisions it one day running Android. "The way I believe it's going to play out is you will eventually have a head-mounted display that probably runs Android as a standalone system, that has a system-on-a-chip that's basically like what you have in mobile phones," Carmack said during an interview with Engadget. At least for right now, the VR device relies on its host PC to assist with its immersive functionality.

"Maybe that means you can only do Quake 3 or something inside there," said Carmack, the man who himself helped build franchises like Doom and Quake at Id software before joining Oculus. But he also predicts a "best of all worlds" scenario where such a headset would still be able to connect to powerful PCs for higher-end games. But an untethered experience offers many benefits, he said. "It does make a big difference not having a wire dragging off your shoulder. It's significant."

Android could help Oculus deliver an untethered virtual reality

Carmack also touched on Oculus' mission to improve head tracking. "It's one of the easiest ways to make yourself sick," he said of the headset's current lack of adequate position tracking. "Look at the floor and sway side to side. It feels like the whole world is penduluming underneath you." Carmack insists that improving on this is "one of the most important things" underway at Oculus. But it's a challenge that often doesn't receive as much focus as resolution, brightness, and so on. "There are freight trains of technical innovation that happen in the mobile industry, and we're just hitching a ride along with that," Carmack said. "The tracking side is something there hasn't been as much of a push for, and we're frantically working on a lot of that." The Oculus CTO says the next revision of the Rift development kit will address some of these hurdles.