The Oculus Rift VR Headset
The want of a fully immersive visual gaming system is nothing new. Ever since the Virtual Boy was released by Nintendo in 1995 to glorious failure, the minds of gamers around the world have been aching for something to come along to prove that true VR can be done. Begun as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, the Oculus Rift has since entered into legend. Though still undergoing development, having just released their Devkit2, media sources and avid gamers have been following the project every step of the way. By taking into account many of the issues that caused previous virtual reality dreams to remain just that, the Oculus has so far been greeted with an impressively resounding sound of applause.
Much in the same way video games go through several stages of development, so to do technological wonders undergo phases of prototypes with each one (hopefully) improving on the previous model. Currently, the Oculus Rift has entered into its third notable design. Known as Crescent Bay, this current iteration improved upon many of its physical attributes. The head strap is now made of three parts that go around as well as over the skull for a better, secure fit. In the same vein, the product has dropped a lot of weight, making hours of carrying around a slightly less than 1 pound weight much more comfortable. There are also headphones integrated in the device, negating the need for gamers to provide their own. The only critique come from reported light leakage around the nose. This, however, is easily ignored once the game gets going.
As anyone who has ever tried older VR can tell you, it makes you sick. No matter how strong your stomach may be, all succumb to simulator sickness. By completely eliminating judder and motion blur through a low persistence OLED display, it has now almost completely eliminated such a side effect. In addition, to make the gameplay much more interactive, the system requires you to set up a small camera that works in tune with sensors located along the front and back of the goggles. This level of tracking makes the entire world completely viewable and interactive. Its internal latency tester enhances this by taking precision measurements of your physical movements to sync these visuals correctly. While the included “game” is a simple rail system, many testers found themselves spending a lot of time simply looking around, reporting minor tearing that took them out of an otherwise solid experience.
Each eye comes with its own HD screen with a 960 by 1080 resolution for each eye. The refresh rates are 75Hz, 72Hz, and 60 Hz while the persistence is 2 ms, 3 ms and full. Tracking includes measurements taken by a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer. In addition, the Oculus Rift has set itself up to be fully ready to work with Unity 4, Unreal Development Kit and Unreal Engine 4 so as to create a market where VR games can be created easily and quickly.