This is a project that I have been working on for nearly a year. For a long time I have been building computers, since before it was cool to own your own gaming rig. The first PC that I owned that I could call my own I had to put together myself, before that I had to time share with my family.. which for young Dan was not always the easiest task. While I was in highschool I took system building to an obsessive level and at one point had 30 computers in my basement, which I later donated to local schools.
On June 9 – 11 in Winnipeg we held our Game Jam, Peg Jame that is. The theme was things are not as the seem, and although I sent everybody on my team at Bit Space Development to work on projects of their choosing, I decided to try my hand at something as well.
I am not creative so I decided to work with VR as usual.
Now that the big 3 VR HMDs are out it is time to talk about tracking. Some things work and some don’t. When you watch videos of any of the helmets it is easy to think they all work flawlessly, which obviously isn’t true.
I have been working with VR for a long time. I can turn around in my lab and see HMDs ranging from the HTC vive all the way back to the Oculus DK1. In that time there have been a lot of different attempts at input devices that have either become standard or kinda become forgotten about.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a new medium. A lot of people think of Virtual Reality as the next big technology which is likely true, it is pretty mind blowing when you are standing on the surface of mars or you are floating through a vein into the heart. What a lot of people don’t realize is that VR is actually the next big medium, like television, smart phones, or radio. VR is a new way to interact with your customers and have your brand interacted with.
Virtual reality is difficult to describe to people who have not actually tried it. It is not quite like you are sitting at your desk with a box on your head (google cardboard), it is more like you have actually traveled to the virtual place. If a simulation is good enough, it can feel like you are really there. This is amplified if you are actually sitting or standing like the character in the simulation and if you are wearing a good headset to cancel the noise.
The hardware is a lot better this time around. The resolution is now 960 X 1080 per eye, which is noticeable. There is an additional position tracking unit which tracks the Oculus Rift, and your device’s orientation.
Precise, low-latency positional tracking opens the door to entirely new interactive and gameplay opportunities. Great positional tracking is a key requirement for virtual reality; with it, the Oculus Rift can accurately map all of your real world head movements.
The DK2 uses low persistence OLED Displays. This basically eliminated the motion blur and jutter of the display, which is what makes you feel sick most of the time.
DK2 uses a low persistence OLED display to eliminate motion blur and judder, two of the biggest contributors to simulator sickness. Low persistence makes the scene appear visually stable, increasing the potential for presence.
Over all the DK2 has a lot better hardware. The specs below will outline what is on board of the headset.
|Resolution||960 x 1080 per eye|
|Refresh Rate||75 Hz, 72 Hz, 60 Hz|
|Persistence||2 ms, 3 ms, full|
|Viewing Optics||100° Field of View (nominal)|
|USB Device||USB 2.0|
|USB Host||USB 2.0 (requires DC Power Adapter)|
|Positional Tracker USB||USB 2.0|
|Sensors||Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer|
|Update Rate||1000 Hz|
|Sensors||Near Infrared CMOS Sensor|
|Update Rate||60 Hz|
|Weight||0.97 lbs (without cable)|
|Included Accessories||HDMI to DVI Adapter DC Power Adapter International Power Plugs Nearsighted lens cups Lens cleaning cloth|
Software wise there is a lot to choose from experiment wise. Immediately I downloaded a tour of the solar system. This blew my mind away. One of my biggest dreams (not surprisingly) is to go to space one day. The experience was great, and it really sold me on virtual reality. On the Oculus Share site, there are loads of software experiments to download for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
There is also a plugin for the Unity game engine to develop games for the Oculus Rift. The SDK allows you to easily build games and simulations for the rift.
The Oculus Rift is paired with the publicly available Oculus SDK which includes source code, documentation, and samples to help you hit the ground running. The Oculus Rift and the Oculus SDK currently support Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Over all developing for the rift is easier than you would expect, if you have a little game dev knowledge to begin with.
The device isn’t terrible to set up. There are a lot more cords than you would expect. The device I tried it out first on was my laptop at work, a 2013 Mac Book Pro. Setting up the Oculus on the Mac wasn’t terrible but it was difficult to get the displays configured correctly.
If you are going to use the Oculus Rift, the best configuration I have found so far is to just mirror your display, I found that sending my display to the rift as a secondary display just caused a bunch of issues including rotating the display. After all was said and done, it was super easy to download and try out different experiments.
Overall the device is great. The setup was a little frustrating. On Windows it was admittedly a lot easier to set up than Mac, which is fine because my work laptop isn’t really for gaming anyways haha. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of technologies are released for this in the near future. It is also going to be interesting to see what Samsung does with their Gear VR, based on the Oculus Rift.
Here are some fun pictures of us using it at the office.