As an owner of the original Oculus Rift headset I’ve been anxiously following the development of the system for years. My original system was standard definition and wasn’t very comfortable. All of that has changed.
Incredibly light, tight, and completely redesigned from the ground up, the production Oculus Rift is built to be enjoyed by everyone. When it was held up on stage, it was held in one hand, showing off the new, smoothly finished visor, complete with stereo audio headphones. The high definition screens are OLED based, a technology known for amazingly rich colours and vivid brightness. Palmer claims “no motion blur, no judder, no pixels” – just a wide, immersive field of view that will bring you “into new worlds”. It’s a bold promise, akin to what many of us have looked forward to since reading books like Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.
Tracking your head movement is an external sensor that sits on your desk or in your living room, plugged into the back of your computer.
The 3D audio setup is designed to provide fully spatialized sound; this is a technology that was originally locked down by Creative Labs for many years due to patents, but we’ve seen a number of companies using newly designed techniques to get around those obstructions, giving us surround audio from a binaural source.
Familiar controls and a partnership with Microsoft
Every Oculus Rift will come with an Xbox One Controller, and will work seamlessly with games that are streamable to Windows 10. Let that sink in, because it’s big news. The Oculus Rift needed a dedicated gamepad controller for some games, and the Xbox One’s controller is an obvious choice, given Sony’s own VR project is competing directly with the Rift.
The real surprise here is that Oculus has forged a deep partnership with Microsoft to help ensure that VR is a reality on Xbox One. The VR space is about to get quite thick: Valve is offering Vive in partnership with HTC for games sold on Steam. Sony has their own VR peripheral designed exclusively for PlayStation 4. Samsung has Oculus VR that is compatible with their Galaxy S and Note devices. So for Microsoft, having a solution for the Xbox One is an awesome way to bring VR into the fold, adding it as a bullet point for their E3 presentation this year, and keeping them current with the competition.
Palmer Lucky announced, with much enthusiasm, Oculus Touch, a two-handed, two-device separate controller that’s meant to replicate your hands in the digital realm. The Rift will auto sense where these controllers are in relation to the headset, giving you an accurate way to interact with the virtual space. Pick things up, fire a gun, cast virtual clay pots like Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore… all of this is possible with Oculus Touch.
Games Line Up
As mentioned above there are lots of Xbox and Windows games that will be coming to Rift, but we’ll also see some impressive stuff like Eve Valkyrie, and Edge of Tomorrow. Keep your eyes open, because there’s more great stuff coming for the Rift! When? Q1 2016… we hope!