The technology has never been right for VR headsets, but as long as techheads have been designing head-mounted displays, they've faced a simpler challenge: Weight. In 1995, Nintendo's Virtual Boy weighed so much, at 1.65 pounds, that the company wisely released it with a stand for resting it on a table (releasing the Virtual Boy turned out to be less wise). The Oculus Rift is a featherweight compared to the Virtual Boys and other 80s and 90s HMDs, but a recent teardown reveals an interesting fact: There's not a ton going on inside the headset itself.
iFixit took a screwdriver and spudgers to the Oculus Rift dev kit to open it up. Good news for tinkerers: the kit is really easy to dive into. iFixit easily popped open the housing for the 7-inch LCD display with a plastic tool. Opening the Rift revealed that the 7-inch panel it contains is from Taiwanese manufacturer Chimei Innolux; iFixit writes that the manufacturer "is Taiwan's largest LCD manufacturer and is rumored to be a replacement source for Apple's iPad Mini screens."
In addition to the LCD panel, the housing only contained a timing controller and a very small custom circuit board housing the sensor package and CPU responsible for making the Rift's head-tracking mojo work. iFixit has close-up photos of each in its post.
And that was basically it. The rest of the Rift's virtual reality immersion comes from the control box, which facilitates the connection with a PC, and with software on the PC side.
First takeaway: the Oculus Rift dev kit is very, very easy to take apart. Second takeaway: This thing can probably be even lighter, since the key components add little to the overall bulk. We might see an even thinner and lighter housing with the consumer Oculus Rift next year, which will be key for extended gaming sessions--speaking of, check out Will playing Team Fortress 2 for nearly an hour. Our necks will thank Oculus for every ounce they can shave off the HMD's bulk.