Oculus is apparently planning a long tease as it continues to slowly reveal details about its future Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, which is expected to go on sale to customers in the first quarter of 2016.
The Oculus team showed off the latest Rift design, features and accessories at a special press event in San Francisco on June 11, in preparation for a public viewing at the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles from June 16 through 18.
Back in May, Oculus actually first announced that the Rift is on the way in a blog post, but few key details were released about the devices, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
The early technical details of the Rift are intriguing, including dual AMOLED displays with low-persistence that are designed specifically for VR, according to Oculus. The displays promise “incredible visual clarity” for users as they explore virtual worlds with the Rift.
Also revealed is that the Rift headset uses an infrared LED constellation tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking for users while operating Rift, according to Oculus. An integrated VR audio system is provided to give users the most real experience possible. The integrated headphones are detachable to allow users to opt for an alternate headset if desired, while a built-in microphone is also part of the unit.
Rift ergonomics are designed to provide users with good balance on a wearer’s head using a strap architecture that spreads the weight of the device, according to Oculus. “It’s as easy to put as slipping on a baseball cap,” the company said in the blog post. “Once you’re in, simply adjust the straps to fit you.”
Rift engineers also built in a special mechanism to allow users to adjust the distance between the lenses for a more comfortable fit, and provided a means to replace the soft foam that cushions the unit against a user’s face when the foam wears out. The design also has been improved so that the Rift fits better when worn with eyeglasses.
The Lowdown on Accessories
Perhaps one of the most interesting news bits coming from Oculus is the company’s move to ship each new Rift with a wireless Microsoft Xbox One controller so that users can play next-generation games and experiences with the device right out of the box. The Xbox controller, which is being included through a partnership with Microsoft, will be integral for use with games such as Lucky’s Tale, EVE: Valkyrie, and Edge of Nowhere, according to Oculus.
Also to be offered is a new Oculus Touch accessory that features a pair of tracked controllers that give users the sensation that their virtual hands are actually their own. Touch will let users take their virtual reality experiences further by unlocking new interactions among game characters and themes. Oculus will demonstrate an Oculus Touch prototype called Half Moon at the E3 conference which will include a controller for each hand, according to the blog post.
The wireless Half Moon controllers will each have a traditional analog thumbstick, two buttons, and an analog trigger, as well as a new input mechanism called a hand trigger that could be used to fire a virtual weapon. The prototype Half Moon controllers use the same IR LED constellation tracking system used in the Rift, as well as haptic capabilities that developers can use to deliver feedback to users when interacting with objects in the virtual world.
The Oculus Touch accessory is also slated to be available in the first half of 2016.
To encourage the development of additional independent games that will work with the Rift headset, Oculus said it will invest about $10 million to accelerate and support the work of innovative developers. “We know that virtual reality is going to inspire a new generation of game developers, driven by emerging independent teams and individuals,” the company said in a related blog post. “Not only will these folks bring more and better games for launch and beyond, but we’re looking forward to their inventiveness and creativity in VR.”