Ride a 'Tron'-style light cycle via Oculus Rift

The old-school video game is getting a next-generation update in the RiftCycles Project, thanks to Facebook-owned virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift and a particularly dedicated fan with a DIY streak.

The light cycle simulator's 3D environment is Oculus Rift-compatible. Luis Sobral

Even with that weird Disney reboot/sequel of a few years ago, the computer-based universe-within-a-universe of "Tron" has always seemed to me like one of the more underrated sci-fi worlds, worthy of more exploration. Now, thanks to the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and a particularly dedicated fan of old-school video games, it's possible to steer something much like a real light cycle in the virtual arena.

Luis Sobral of Setubal, Portugal -- better known as The Arcade Man -- spent about a month's worth of his free time taking a virtual-reality light cycle experience dubbed "The RiftCycles Project" from sketch to reality, recently showing it off at the SAPO Codebits conference in Lisbon.

"Ever since I was a kid I was amazed by video games and everything that is related to them," Sobral told me via email. "So I'm always thinking in different ways of addressing this market and improving the way we play games. The Oculus Rift is definitely the future."

Sobral and his homemade light cycle. Luis Sobral

He constructed the prototype light cycle simulator from scratch, in such a way that it works with a 3D virtual environment designed by Portuguese startup Overflow Interactive using Unity game platform software and compatible with the Oculus Rift.

Last week many of the biggest geeks on the Iberian peninsula got the chance to enter the light cycle arena themselves at Codebits; you can check out the RiftCycles in action in the video from the conference below.

Sobral says that while this is all currently a hobby, it "most likely" will become "something more professional and definite."

He says he's also working on a few other ideas that involve the Oculus Rift.

When I asked what was next for Sobral and RiftCycles, he remained cryptic, telling me,"I'm working on something that will allow it to be seen by everyone. More news coming soon..."

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