Sergey Orlovskiy using the developer kit version of the Oculus Rift (with separate headphones)
|Inventor(s)||Palmer Luckey (founder)|
|Manufacturer||Oculus VR, Inc.|
|Cost||Developer kit: $300, Consumer version: Unknown (rumored <$300) |
|Resolution||Developer kit: 1280×800 (640×800 per eye), Consumer version: ≥1920×1080|
|Horizontal FOV||Developer kit: > 90°, Consumer version: TBA|
|Diagonal FOV||Developer kit: > 110°, Consumer version: TBA|
|Head Tracking||Developer kit: 1000 Hz absolute 3DOF orientation (gyr/acc/mag), and position tracking. Consumer version: TBA, positional tracking confirmed.|
|Platform||Windows, Linux, OS X, Android|
|Connection||Developer kit: DVI/HDMI and USB, Consumer version: TBA|
The Oculus Rift is an upcoming virtual reality head-mounted display. It is being developed by Oculus VR, which has raised US $91 million, of which $2.4 million was raised with crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The company was founded by Palmer Luckey and Scaleform co-founders Brendan Iribe and Michael Antonov, as well as Nate Mitchell. id Software co-founder John Carmack was later hired as its Chief Technology Officer.
The consumer version of the product is expected (but not confirmed) to become available in late 2014 or early 2015.
As a head-mounted display (HMD) designer at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Palmer Luckey earned a reputation for having the largest personal collection of HMDs in the world, and is a longtime moderator in Meant to be Seen (MTBS) 3D's discussion forums.
Through MTBS' forums, Palmer developed the idea of creating a new head mounted display that was both more effective than what is currently on the market, and inexpensive for gamers. Coincidentally, John Carmack had been doing his own research and happened upon Palmer'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. During the convention, Carmack introduced a duct taped head-mounted display based on Palmer'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.
Following the demonstration of the Oculus Rift prototype at E3 in June 2012, on 1 August 2012 the company announced a Kickstarter campaign to further develop the product. Within four hours of the announcement, Oculus secured its intended amount of US$250,000, and in less than 36 hours, the campaign had surpassed $1 million in funding, eventually ending with $2,437,429.
The Oculus developer kit was an initial version financed by a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign sought to get the initial Oculus Rift into the hands of developers to begin integration of the device into their games.
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, with an expected shipping date set of December 2012. There was also a limited run of 100 unassembled Rift prototype kits for pledges over $275 that would ship a month earlier. Both versions were intended to include Doom 3 BFG Edition, but Rift support in the game was not ready, so to make up for it they included a choice of discount vouchers for either Steam or the Oculus store. Dev kit preorders were made available for $300 on their website starting on 26 September 2012. These kits sold at a rate of 4–5 per minute for the first day, before slowing down throughout the week. These preorders were expected to start being delivered in "May 2013", but started arriving around March 30. Currently Oculus is accepting new developer kit orders on their website with a ship date in 3-5 business days.
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, 1080p resolution, and wireless operation are some of the features under consideration for the consumer Rift. In June 2013, a 1080p version of the Rift was shown at E3. At Consumer Electronics Show in January 2014, an updated prototype codenamed "Crystal Cove" was unveiled, which uses a special low-persistence of vision OLED display, and includes a new motion tracking system that uses an external camera which tracks infrared dots located on the headset. The new motion tracking system would allow the system to detect actions such as leaning or crouching, which should help alleviate sickness experienced by users when the software didn't respond to these actions.
The first prototype of the device used a 5.6 inch screen, but after the unexpectedly successful Kickstarter, Oculus determined that the panel was not available in sufficient quantities, so they changed their design to use a new 7 inch screen, which makes the Rift developer kit somewhat bulkier than the first prototypes.
The new panel's pixel switching time is 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. This mimics normal human vision, which does not 100% overlap either, although the overlap area is smaller on the Rift than in real life.
The field of view 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. It is intended to almost fill the wearer's entire field of view, and the real world is completely blocked out, to create a strong sense of immersion. 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. The panel's resolution is expected to be upgraded to at least 1920×1080 for the final consumer version.
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.
The weight of the headset is approximately 379 g, (an increase of about 90 grams due to the increased screen size) and it does not include headphones.
The headset has a dial on each side that can be turned with a screwdriver which 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. Adjustment for the interpupillary distance is done in software, although given its large exit pupil, this should not be a severe issue with the Rift.
A USB interface is used for sending tracking data to the host machine. It also comes with a power adapter that must be used to connect the control box to a power outlet.
Games and game platforms must be specifically designed to work correctly with the Oculus Rift. Oculus is producing a software development kit (SDK) to assist developers with integrating the Oculus Rift with their games. The SDK will include code, samples and documentation. According to Oculus, game integration will begin with PCs and smartphones, and be followed by consoles at a later date. Since its introduction, many developers have been working on integration.
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 likely to be 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. Doom 3: BFG Edition was originally going to be the first game to officially support the Oculus Rift, but after the change of tracker and the change to the 7" panel, Id Software has not yet updated the game to support it.
The Gallery: Six Elements is the first announced game being designed specifically for the Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality, rather than adding Rift support to an existing game. This is considered important because many existing games use features that do not translate well to VR, such as a HUD, cutscenes, menus, third person sections, fast movement speeds, not being able to see one's own body, etc. It is currently on Kickstarter.
Epic Games, creators of the Unreal Engine, have announced that the engine will integrate support for the Oculus Rift. David Helgason, CEO of Unity Technologies, has announced support for the Oculus Rift with the Unity engine. John Carmack, formerly of id Software, has stated that he plans to make the Oculus Rift a concurrent part of the Doom 4 development cycle to ensure that it works well with the game at launch. Star Citizen, the upcoming space role-playing simulator from Chris Roberts (creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer) is being built with Oculus support.
Several prominent figures from the games industry, notably John Carmack, the co-founder of Id Software, Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve Corporation, Michael Abrash, the author of Zen of Graphics and Graphics Programming Black Book, Cliff Bleszinski, former design director at Epic Games, and David Helgason, the founder of Unity 3D publicly endorsed the campaign. Markus Persson, founder of Mojang, has stated that the company's games will likely support the Oculus Rift. Michael Abrash, who is researching virtual reality and augmented reality at Valve said "I personally would like to get our games running on the Rift and make it a great experience".
Several titles are playable on the Rift via the free and open source Vireio Perception VR drivers. Games currently with full or partial support include Left 4 Dead, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, Half Life 2, Bioshock, and more.
Vireio Perception 2.0 was the first VR driver to support direct game engine camera manipulation ("VRBoost"), true HUD/GUI resizing, and the Brown Reischl and Schneider Settings Analyzer (B.R.A.S.S.A) toolset. Among other things, Vireio promises near-native VR quality, minimal latency, game controller support and special tools that make it possible for users to dissect a game and create new game profiles.
Another option for playing existing games is the VorpX commercial driver  that has listed support for a wide variety of games built on DirectX versions 9 through 11. All current DirectX 10 and 11 rendering is based on 2D+Depth technology, and true dual camera rendering is available for supported DirectX 9 games. Sample titles listed as being VorpX compatible include BioShock Infinite, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Flight Simulator X and more.
Dynamic Digital Depth has also been releasing Oculus Rift "Add-On" VR features to their TriDef Ignition stereoscopic 3D drivers. Their support highlights include Bioshock 2, Crysis, Fallout 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Metro 2033, and more. TriDef Ignition's Oculus Rift support is currently limited to DirectX 9 games.
In an effort to make sure claims of VR compatibility have an objective meaning, Meant to be Seen released GameGradeVR. The service is non-proprietary and works with DDD, Vireio Perception, VorpX, and native VR software that doesn't require a middleware add-on. Gamer driven, the service asks the user a series of questions about required game settings, visual flexibility, and any problems or anomalies that remain. The final score and entry tells users what they need to get the best results, and informs software developers what problems need solving without infringing on artistic choices.
Demos of the Oculus Rift featuring impressions and gameplay with both single images and stereo images have been broadcast on YouTube by a number of popular video game content providers. A home video entitled "My 90 year old grandmother tries the Oculus Rift" went viral with over 2 million views.
While working as a designer at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Palmer Luckey behind the Oculus Rift 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. The FOV2GO project is now available as a template allowing anyone to build the unit themselves.
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 Oculus Rift HMDs to give the user the impression of being inside of a complete virtual world.
- List of games with Oculus Rift support
- Virtuix Omni – a Rift-compatible omnidirectional treadmill
- Haptic suit
- Razer Hydra
- Google Glass
- Virtual Boy
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