Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality Becomes…Reality!

As the newest member of the tool engineering team, I thought I would write my first blog post about a personal passion of mine, and how it relates to a new development in the world of product design and development.

I have been an avid “video gamer” for as long as I can remember. From my humble beginnings on the Super Nintendo and Gameboy systems, to my current Xbox 360 and custom overhauled pc, I’ve seen and experienced most of the innovations in the video gaming world first hand. In the next few months, we are guaranteed to see an overwhelming amount of press and discussion over the new and upcoming Xbox One and Playstation 4 systems, however, it is not these new devices that excite me. Instead, it is the realization of what every sci-fi geek and gaming guru has been speculating about for years. True virtual reality.

The Oculus Rift is the newest, and arguably most promising, virtual reality headset device. Previous devices have encountered the common issue of immersion. Simply placing screens in front of the eyes can give the semblance of virtual reality, however, the ability to recognize the size of the projected image itself, as well as a limited or stationary field of view, generally inhibits the effectiveness of the experience. The Oculus Rift, on the other hand, is the first head-mounted VR device which gives the user a gigantic 110 degree field of view, with all ambient light blacked out. This massive display, combined with the low-latency head tracking, creates an immersive experience in which the user can not only see the world of the video game, but is also able to look around it, as their view of the virtual world moves in sync with the movements of their head. It is likely something none of us have ever experienced before in our lives.

The headset, though still in the development phase, is set to be released soon, and developer kits are currently available from Oculus Rift themselves. I can’t wait to see what game developers, as well as hobbyists and tinkerers alike, will be able to do with a device like this. The future definitely seems bright for virtual reality, and it is only a matter of time before it plays a large role in the future developments of our entertainment experiences.

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The Oculus Rift concept design. The device is well designed, with a sleek and contemporary feel.

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The view from inside the device itself. The images are displayed on two independent views, with a small amount of overlap to mimic the way the human eyes perceive the world. Though they appear as two images here, in use, the images combine to form a three dimensional full field of view through the use of lenses within the headset.

Finally, here’s a video of Jamie Hyneman, one of the hosts of the show Mythbusters, demoing the Oculus Rift and giving some initial reactions.

For more info, visit oculusrift.com. Enjoy!