Oculus Rift is Now Available to Consumers
Oculus, a VR firm bought by Facebook has finally revealed the consumer version of Oculus VR in an event in San Francisco. Oculus Rift will be available in Q1 of 2016, and the company revealed that the device will go around $1500 when it goes on sale, but that price includes a high powered computer needed to run the VR.
Improvements from Previous Rift
One of the issues of the Oculus Rift before was the weight. It is so heavy that you wouldn’t last an hour playing it. The Rift consumer version is lighter and according to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe you can put it on just like a baseball cap.
The Rift features a custom display optics that the company has been working on for years. It also comes with a tracking sensor. Brendan Iribe said that display is one of the most essential aspect of the Rift.
By interleaving a back frame between each video frame, it will be able to prevent a ghosting effect. In order to do that, the refresh rate needs to be high; it should be around 90 Hz. The Rift will shift with two OLED panels designed for low persistence.
These two displays are running a combined 2150×1200 or around 1080×1200 each panel. Behind the panels are optical lenses; these lenses help the user focus on a screen close to the eye without eye strain. There will also have an adjustment dial so you can tweak it to make Rift work for you.
The head movement is tracked using an IR LED constellation tracking system. Unlike the Microsoft Hololens that uses 2 cameras to track camera movement, this makes the installation more difficult but is expected to be more precise. This installation also helps in reducing the overall weight of the unit.
For those wearing glasses, you’ll be glad to know that the company has improved the design to better allow for glasses to be worn.
The device comes with an integrated headphones, the headphones were good enough, but some might not appreciate it. Fortunately, the headphones are removable so you can use your own headset.
Rift and a padding around it to provide comfort to the wearer. Directional audio is the key aspect for the VR to be as immersive as possible. Thankfully the Oculus team has done a great job in that aspect.
One thing that was not known before is what kind of control mechanism will the Rift use. In the past CES demos, Rift didn’t have any controllers and the user simply has to stand up and wear the device.
Oculus Rift announced today that every device will be shipped with Xbox One wireless controller. Oculus mentioned that Rift will work best with the Xbox controller. This partnership with Microsoft also means that Oculus VR will work natively on Windows 10.
Oculus has developed a new type of input device that will make it possible for users to interact and manipulate objects in virtual worlds with their hands. The Oculus team has showed off the prototype version of this called Touch.
Each controller comes with a traditional analog thumbstick, two buttons, a hand trigger, and an analog trigger. These controllers are wireless and use the IR LED tracking system that coordinates with the head mount.
The controllers also have haptic feedback so that they can be used to simulate real-world touch experiences. The controller can also detect finger poses so the user can perform what task is assigned to that pose.
While the hardware looks great, the question is how will it work with the software? As a VR device, Rift needs to have quality games. Oculus has already developers working on high-end games like EVE: Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere and Chronos.
EVE: Valkyrie is a space-bound adventure game. It is a multiplayer dogfighting game that is fully compatible with the Oculus Rift. Below is a screenshot of the said game.
Chronos is a game that plays out over the course of the man’s life. In this game, the age of the character plays a vital role. As the character gets older, the slower it will be able to move.
To access the software, users are presented with Oculus Home. Oculus Home is an online hub that offers previews to all the games. In addition to the Xbox Controller, Microsoft will also enable the upcoming Xbox Game Streaming to the device. It won’t be a fully immersive 3D, instead it will project the Xbox game into the screen inside the rift and blocks out all distractions.
Palmer Luckey started Oculus when he was just 15. He started working on his prototypes in his parent’s garage. He created his first head-mounted VR display when he was just in high school.
It was during his college years when he created the first consumer-priced VR headset called the Oculus Rift. He then left college to work on the VR in full time.
The firm originally turned into Kickstarter to fund the project. They started with a modest campaign of $250,000 and within 24 hours, they have raised $670,000 from 2,750 people. Within three days, they have reached almost a million dollars.
Many have backed the project, including industry titans like Valve. They were also able to raise funds from investors across Silicone Valley.
Facebook then bought the firm and aims to add almost 1,200 new employees and 54 of these will work exclusively on the Virtual Reality project.
Throughout the 80s and 90s a lot of companies turned to VR headsets, but none were able to succeed. This is because some were just too expensive, while most didn’t work as expected. Another problem is that all of them were far too ahead of their time.
Oculus Rift has been one of the most successful VR projects to date. Applications of VR today is far more than just for games. In fact the company has been working to integrate the Rift for medical applications.
Of course gaming will always play a big part in this VR but the question is will they be able to produce enough quality titles that consumers will be itching for more?