Introducing The Oculus Rift VR Headset

Oculus Rift

  • Early DaysOculus Rift
  • Features & Design
  • Specifications
  • Accessories & Add-ons
  • Launch News
  • Cost
  • Games
  • System Requirements
  • Video Guide

 

Set to take high rank in the chart of the highest quality virtual reality headsets, the Oculus Rift is going to hit the stores in 2016.

The Facebook owned device started out on its likely meteoric rise to fame in 2014 by winning the Best of CES Award. That win no doubt prompted the interest from FB in 2014, who may well have got their hands on a device that will take the entertainment world by storm.

Giant businesses like FB are not likely to take the risk of incurring 2 billion dollar losses for nothing. They clearly have major plans for the headset, and more importantly for what it will deliver and what markets it opens up.

With billions of captive Facebook users ready for exposure and marketing – and looking for new ways to socially interact with friends and family – it will be no surprise to see the Rift rise very quickly to the top of the virtual reality tree.

 

Where Did It All Start?

After the first device was displayed back in 2013 at the E3 Gaming Convention – following on from a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $2 million in 2012 – the Rift’s makers entered a development phase which saw over 50000 $300-a-go developer kits sold. The intention being to open up the Rift to designers looking to develop games, apps, and other content.

Early in the process, Oculus caught the attention of video game developer John Carmack. With Carmack’s classic game Doom 3, Oculus had great success in offering an amazing demo of the Carmack classic. Other big names in the gaming field involved include Minecraft maker Markus Persson.

Now with the backing of Facebook, Oculus are turning attention to tackling development of VR games such as Eve: Valkyrie and The Legend of Zelda. The Gallery: Six Elements was the first game announced to be designed specifically for the Oculus Rift.

 

Features & Design

The Oculus Rift prototype offered 1080p video for each eye on a 7”-inch OLED 640×800 resolution LCD screen. Featuring enhanced motion tracking the early Oculus Rift gave the viewer a near full body gaming feel, which is complimented by the 110 degrees wide field of view.

Connectivity options are excellent with a number of inputs including USB ports and DVI/HDMI.

With the advanced technology and the possibilities the Oculus Rift offers to users, it is no surprise that the technology is being courted by many different industries including movie companies, the military, auto manufacturers, and training and educational communities.
NASA is also already using the Oculus Rift to create virtual tours of Mars and the International Space Station.

 

Specifications

– Variable Acuity Resolution
– Head Tracking 6 Degrees of Freedom/Ultra Low Latency
– Field of View 110 Degrees Diagonal/90 Degrees Horizontal
– Resolution 1080 x 1200 per eye
– Refresh Rate 90Hz
– Inputs DVI/HDMI, VGA and USB
– Platforms PC and Mobile
– Weight 0.22 Kilograms

 

Accessories & Add-ons

To get the full immersive effect in VR gaming you’ll need to isolate senses other than sight. Sound is the easiest to handle, and Oculus plan to address this with specially designed 3D effect headphones.

The Controller

Game control will be provided once the specially designed position tracking controller – the Oculus Touch – is released some time in 2016. But the Rift will work with other third party controllers, and the plan is to ship early orders with a free Xbox One controller included.

 

Cost

The pre-order stage for the Rift kicked off in early Feb 2016 with the device priced at $599, £499 or AU$649. With a properly built PC to run it with coming in at around $1000, this effectively puts the overall price at around $1500 for anyone not already owning the Oculus ready hardware.

Included in delivery will be the headset, with built-in headphones and mic, the camera sensor and an Xbox One controller. Early buyers will also get the bundled platform game Lucky’s Tale.

 

Games

Game fans pre-ordering the device in the early part of 2016 can expect it to shift with a copy of EVE Valkyrie, a first person space themed dogfight video game. This title is one of the initial launch library of 30 games that Oculus say will “take you to the outer reaches of space, mysterious labyrinths of wonder, and fantastic worlds of adventure. And they’re just the beginning.”

Pricing is set to range from a general $9.99 up to $59.99  for complex games such as Elite Dangerous: Deluxe Edition, and EVE Valkyrie Founder’s Pack. The Rift ships with EVE: Valkyrie and Luckey’s Tale bundled in the $599 introductory offer. Here’s a full list of game prices.

We’ll be covering non gaming titles and reviewing the best Oculus Rift games in future updates. For now this video gives a good overview of the initial launch titles.

 

System Requirements

One of the biggest hurdles the introduction that PC based VR headsets has to overcome is in the build specification the hardware has to overcome. In the case of the Rift, it requires a high end graphics card in particular to be able to display the virtual reality images in a way that gives the best experience.

Here’s the recommended spec as laid down by Oculus:

 

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports + 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

If you’re into computers that’ll probably make it clear. If you’re an avid gamer you may already have all this installed. But for many of us it won’t make sense and we won’t already have it.

Oculus have recognised the problem, and put in place a solution. That solution is the Oculus Ready PC, destined to become part of a collection of hardware known as VR ready PCs.

 

Oculus Ready PC – VR Ready PCs

These are essentially a set of PCS manufactured by big names such as Asus, Dell and Alienware which are pre-built to the correct specification. Order one and it’ll arrive ready to be used with your headset straight off the bat.

The pre-built units are still in planning phase, but more detail should be known in early to mid 2016.

 

About Oculus

To sum up its production goal, the Oculus website has this to say:

“Oculus is a developer of virtual reality hardware for the enthusiastic market. Other companies focus on research institutions, military contracts, and large companies as customers, but our mission is to put high performance, low cost, open-sourced virtual reality in the hands of home brewers, experimenters, and gamers.”

 

Videos

Video – Oculus Rift Prototype Hands On

 

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