Three years after waging one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter, and one year after getting a boost by Facebook buying them, Oculus unveiled the final design for their consumer ready Oculus Rift VR headset.
While users have been able to buy a development version for a while now, this new headset will have a ton of support from software and hardware manufacturers, with the promise of low latency and high resolution images from its twin OLED monitors. Is it time to immerse ourselves in virtual reality?
“I’ve seen thousands of people inside the Rift now. And one of the first things people do is they reach out into this virtual world. It’s something entirely new to them. It’s the natural reaction to something they’ve never experienced before.” – Oculus founder Lucky Palmer
The finished version of the Oculus VR rig, dubbed simply “Rift,” now has an external sensor that replaces the old camera sensor on the development version and improved the audio quality with 360-degree spatialized audio to completely immerse the user into the audible environment.
Oculus has also integrated the headphones into the headset itself and made them smaller for better comfort. The monitors in the Rift are also adjustable with a thumb wheel that can adjust the distance between both eyes much like a pair of binoculars. Users with glasses can also keep their specs on, as the Rift has been enlarged to make room for most of today’s popular frame.
Oculus also got a boost when Microsoft signed on to support the Rift in Windows 10 with their new HoloLens feature. This means that games running on the Windows 10 operating system will support the Rift natively when the OS ships next month. Since everyone who runs Windows 7 and up will get a free upgrade, that means a heck of a lot of potentially new Rift customers will be able to hit the ground running and immerse themselves from the get go.
Oculus Touch, announced Thursday alongside the consumer-ready version of the Rift headset, comprises two handheld controllers—think double-fisted Wii remotes as imagined by Darth Vader. – Wired Magazine
In addition, Oculus also announced the Oculus Touch, also known as Project “Half-Moon,” which is a pair of wireless touch controllers that provide haptic feedback for playing games. The Touch supports the same six degrees of freedom as the Rift headset thanks to a ring of sensors that can pick up how you hold the touch and mirror gestures in the virtual environment such as waving, pointing, or giving a “thumbs up.”
The idea is to great a “rift” like extension for your hands so that you can see them in the virtual world. Touch is Oculus answer to one of the most vexing problems in VR, that of the user feeling disconnected from their body while being immersed.
On a personal note, I really do hope that the twin OLED screens turn up the resolution to 11, because when I used the Oculus during the Interstellar Rift Experience even last fall, I was stunned at how poor the resolution was. The immersive sensation was cool, but the quality of the image was downright terrible. So if Oculus can ramp up the image to at least high definition, it will go a long way to restoring my faith in the emerging VR category.
Planning to go on sale in the first quarter of 2016 (just missing the holiday season – that’s a bad thing), the Rift doesn’t have a published price yet, but it is said to sell for under $1500. Well it better be well under because you can buy the 2nd generation development version for $350, and going with a price nearly five times great would kill an ambitious launch. Check out Oculus.com for more information.