Oculus Rift

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Orlovsky and Oculus Rift.jpg
Sergey Orlovskiy using the first version of the Oculus Rift Development Kit (with separate headphones)
Type Head-mounted display
Release date Q1 2016[1]
Inventor(s) Palmer Luckey (founder)[2]
Manufacturer Oculus VR
Display Technology Development Kit 1: LCD
Development Kit 2: OLED
Consumer Version: OLED
Resolution Development Kit 1: 1280×800 (640×800 per eye)[3]
Development Kit 2: 1920×1080 (960×1080 per eye)[4]
Consumer Version: 2160x1200 (1080x1200 per eye)[5]
Refresh Rate 90 Hz
FOV (Nominal) Development Kit 1: 110°[3]
Development Kit 2: 100°
Consumer Version: TBA
Head Tracking Development Kit 1: 3DOF (3-axis rotational tracking)
Development Kit 2: 6DOF (3-axis rotational tracking + 3-axis positional tracking)
Consumer Version: 6DOF (3-axis rotational tracking + 3-axis positional tracking)
Weight Development Kit 1: 380g
Development Kit 2: 440g
Consumer Version: TBA (Lighter than 440g)
Platforms Microsoft Windows
OS X[3]
Connection DVI/HDMI and USB[3]
Website Official website

The Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display developed by Oculus VR. During its period as an independent company, Oculus VR raised US$2.4 million for the development of the Rift.[3]

The consumer version of the product will be released in Q1 2016. Based on the Crescent Bay prototype, it features an improved tracking system that accommodates seated and standing experiences, according to Oculus VR, along with updated ergonomics and a tweaked industrial design.[1] Oculus released two 'development kits', DK1 in late 2012 and DK2 in mid 2014, to give developers a chance to develop content in time for the Rift's release; these have also been purchased by many virtual reality enthusiasts for general usage. Oculus has stated that there will not be a DK3 but will instead release the consumer version next.[6]


Through Meant to be Seen (MTBS)'s 3D discussion forums,[7] Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, developed the idea of creating a new head-mounted display that was both more effective than what was then on the market, and inexpensive for gamers.

Coincidentally, John Carmack had been doing his own research and happened upon Luckey's developments. After sampling an early unit, Carmack favored Luckey's prototype and just before the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Id Software announced that their future updated version of Doom 3, which would be known as BFG Edition, would be compatible with head-mounted display units.[8] During the convention, Carmack introduced a duct taped head-mounted display based on Luckey's Oculus Rift prototype, which ran Carmack's own software. The unit featured a high speed IMU and a 5.6-inch (14 cm) LCD display, visible via dual lenses, that were positioned over the eyes to provide a 90 degrees horizontal and 110 degrees vertical stereoscopic 3D perspective.[9][10]

On March 25, 2014, Facebook announced that it had agreed to buy Oculus VR for $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in Facebook stock, and an additional $300 million subject to Oculus VR meeting certain financial targets in a transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.[11][12][13]

Developer versions[edit]

The Oculus developer kit was an initial version financed by a Kickstarter campaign, which sought to get the initial Oculus Rift into the hands of developers to begin integration of the device into their games.[14] Since then, four different iterations of the hardware have been revealed to the public.

Developer kit[edit]

In August 2012, Oculus announced that the "dev kit" version of the Oculus Rift would be given as a reward to backers who pledged $300 or more on Kickstarter.[15] There was also a limited run of 100 unassembled Rift prototype kits for pledges over $275 that would ship a month earlier.[3]

Developer kit pre-orders were made available for $300 on their website starting on September 26, 2012. These kits sold at a rate of 4–5 per minute for the first day, before slowing down throughout the week.[16] As of March 12, 2014, the Rift DK1 kit was no longer available to order from Oculus.[17]

While the first prototypes of the device used a 5.6-inch (14 cm) screen, the Rift developer kit uses a different 7-inch (18 cm) screen. The panel's pixel switching time is also significantly lower, reducing latency and motion blur when turning one's head quickly. The pixel fill is also better, reducing the screen door effect and making individual pixels less noticeable. The LCD is brighter and the color depth is 24 bits per pixel.

The 7-inch screen also makes the stereoscopic 3D no longer 100% overlapping, the left eye seeing extra area to the left and the right eye seeing extra area to the right. The field of view (FOV) is more than 90 degrees horizontal (110 degrees diagonal), which is more than double the FOV of most competing devices, and is the primary strength of the device. The resolution is 1280×800 (16:10 aspect ratio), which leads to an effective of 640×800 per eye (4:5 aspect ratio). However, since the Rift does not feature a 100% overlap between the eyes, the combined horizontal resolution is effectively greater than 640. The image for each eye is shown in the panel as a barrel distorted image that is then corrected by pincushion effect created by lenses in the headset, generating a spherical-mapped image for each eye.

Initial prototypes used a Hillcrest Labs 3DoF head tracker that is normally 125 Hz, with a special firmware that John Carmack requested which makes it run at 250 Hz, tracker latency being vital due to the dependency of virtual reality's realism on response time. The latest version includes Oculus' new 1000 Hz Adjacent Reality Tracker that will allow for much lower latency tracking than almost any other tracker. It uses a combination of 3-axis gyros, accelerometers, and magnetometers, which make it capable of absolute (relative to Earth) head orientation tracking without drift.[18][19]

The weight of the headset is approximately 379 g (13.4 oz),[20] which is an increase of about 90 g (3.2 oz) in weight due to the increased screen size, and it does not include headphones.

A dial on each side of the headset allows adjusting each display to be moved closer or further away from the eyes. The development kit also includes interchangeable lenses that will allow for simple dioptric correction.

In June 2013, a 1080p version of the Rift was shown at Electronic Entertainment Expo.[21]

The entire source for the Rift DK1 was released to the public in September 2014, including the firmware, schematics, and mechanicals for the device. The firmware is released under a simplified BSD license, while the schematics and mechanicals are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.[22]

Crystal Cove[edit]

In January 2014, an updated prototype codenamed "Crystal Cove" was unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show, which used a special low-persistence of vision OLED display as well as a new motion tracking system that utilized an external camera to track infrared dots located on the headset. The new motion tracking system would allow the system to detect actions such as leaning or crouching, which was claimed to help alleviate sickness experienced by users when the software did not respond to these actions.[23]

Developer kit 2[edit]

The Development Kit 2

In March 2014 at GDC, Oculus announced the upcoming Development Kit 2 (DK2) which began shipping in July 2014.[24][25] It features several improvements over the first development kit, such as having a higher-resolution (960×1080 per eye) low-persistence pentile AMOLED display, higher refresh rate, head positional tracking, a detachable cable, and the omission of the need for the external control box.[26]

A teardown of DK2 revealed that it incorporates exactly the same screen as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, including the front panel from the device itself.[27]

In February 2015, Oculus announced that over 100,000 DK2 units had been shipped up until that point.[28]

Crescent Bay[edit]

In September 2014, during the Oculus Connect conference in Los Angeles, Oculus once again presented an updated version of the Rift, codenamed Crescent Bay. This version has a greater resolution than the DK2, a lower weight, built-in audio, and 360-degree tracking thanks to the presence of tracking LEDs in the back of the headset.[29] Oculus has also licensed software library RealSpace3D, which is expected to provide the Rift with HRTF and reverb algorithms.[29] During a panel at SXSW 2015, titled "Explore the Future of VR", it was publicly announced for the first time that the prototype uses two screens instead of one as previously thought.[30]

Consumer version[edit]

A consumer-oriented version of the Rift is in development, which will be aimed at a general market and feature improved components. Improved head tracking, positional tracking, higher resolution,[31] and wireless operation are some of the features under consideration for the consumer Rift.[32] The consumer version of the Rift will have integrated audio. The headphones will use HRTF audio so that sounds can be better located in a three-dimensional space.[33]

On April 30, 2014, Business Insider titled an article to assert that the consumer version of the Rift will be released in 2015, based on a partial quote attributed to "Management at Oculus VR." The quote in question indicates that the company would be "disappointed" if the headset is not released commercially before 2016.[34] This article has been referenced by multiple other sources as official confirmation of a 2015 release date,[35][36][37][38] but representatives of Oculus asserted that no release date had yet been announced.[39][40] In February 2015, Palmer Luckey stated that, despite rumors, the consumer version does not have a May 2015 release date.[41]

On May 6, 2015 Oculus VR announced that the consumer version will ship in Q1 2016 with pre-orders starting in late 2015.[42]


Paramount for the immersion into virtual reality are a high frame rate (at least 75 FPS) and a low latency. Furthermore a pixel persistence lower than 3 ms is required to avoid nausea when moving the head around.

Oculus has produced a software development kit (SDK) to assist developers with integrating the Oculus Rift with their games. The SDK includes code, samples and documentation. Since its introduction, many developers have been working on integration.[43]

Team Fortress 2 was the first game to add support for the Oculus Rift, and is currently available to play with the Oculus Rift dev kit by use of a command line option. The second title to support the Oculus Rift was the Oculus-only version of Museum of the Microstar which was released in April 2013. Half-Life 2 was the third, and Hawken is the fourth game to support the Rift; it was prominently featured in the Kickstarter, and Oculus used it to demo the Rift at the GDC.

Several titles are playable on the Rift via the free and open source Vireio Perception VR drivers.[44] Games currently with full or partial support include Left 4 Dead, Hawken, Skyrim, Portal 2, Half-Life 2, BioShock,[45] Star Citizen, War Thunder, and Elite: Dangerous.[46]

Many existing games do not translate well to VR due to using features such as HUD, cutscenes, menus, third person sections, fast movement speeds, not being able to see one's own body, etc.

Related projects[edit]

While working as a designer at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Palmer Luckey worked on the FOV2GO project: an inexpensive kit consisting of a simple housing and optics to allow someone to put together a cheap HMD using a mobile phone as the display device.[47][48][49] The FOV2GO project is now available as a template allowing anyone to build the unit themselves.[50]

A team from the University of Southern California is working on creating a fully immersive virtual reality experience called "Project Holodeck", which utilises Razer Hydra motion controllers, PS Move positional tracking, and the Oculus Rift HMDs to give the user the impression of being inside of a complete virtual world.[51][52]

At the 2014 Game Developers Conference, Sony announced Project Morpheus, and had prototype units on hand for demonstration.[53]

On March 1, 2015, HTC and Valve Corporation announced that they have been co-developing an HMD named the HTC Vive. [54] The product is rumored to have a November 2015 release date.[55]

FlyPrague rotation platform with 4 passengers aboard wearing Rifts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pitcher, Jenna. "Oculus Reveals When the Consumer Oculus Rift Will Ship". 
  2. ^ "Oculus Rift virtual reality headset gets Kickstarter cash". BBC. August 1, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game". Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The All New Oculus Rift Development kit 2 (DK2) Virtual Reality Headset". Oculus VR. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ Lang, Ben (May 15, 2015). "Oculus Reveals Recommended Rift Specs and Confirms CV1 Resolution". Road To VR. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Oculus VR Palmer Luckey Talks Crescent Bay". Youtube. Gamerhub TV. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Meant to be Seen – View topic – Oculus "Rift" : An open-source HMD for Kickstarter". Mtbs3d.com. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  8. ^ "Carmack Makes Virtual Reality Actually Cool". 
  9. ^ Welsh, Oli (June 7, 2012). "John Carmack and the Virtual Reality Dream". Eurogamer. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (June 14, 2012). "Hands-On With Oculus Rift, John Carmack's Virtual Reality Goggles". G4TV. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  11. ^ Welch, Chris (March 25, 2014). "Facebook buying Oculus VR for $2 billion". The Verge. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
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  13. ^ Kovach, Steve (March 25, 2014). "Facebook Buys Oculus VR For $2 Billion". Business Insider. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Watch the QuakeCon Virtual Reality Keynotes Here " Road to Virtual RealityRoad to Virtual Reality". Roadtovr.com. August 5, 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
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  18. ^ "Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game by Oculus » Online Pre-Orders Live! – Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
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  27. ^ "New Oculus Rift dev kit uses front of a Galaxy Note 3 as its screen". The Verge. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Brendan Iribe on Twitter: "Over 100k DK2's and tons of Gear VR's in the wild -- can't wait to see what the community creates. Everyone's a pioneer!"". Twitter. February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  29. ^ a b "Oculus Unveils New Crescent Bay Rift Model With Integrated Audio, 360 Tracking". 2014-09-20. 
  30. ^ "The Oculus Crescent Bay is a two-screen VR headset". The Verge. March 14, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
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  55. ^ Feltham, Jamie. "STEAM PAGE POINTS TO NOVEMBER RELEASE FOR HTC VIVE". Retrieved 30 March 2015. 

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