Oculus Rift: The new VR phenomenon explained
Don’t let Oculus Rift’s simple appearance deceive you. This amazing virtual reality kit comes with a number of incredible pieces of technology but when you understand how that technology works, you’ll understand why it’s taken so long for this device to become a reality.
Since the device is still in ‘prototype’ stage, there is a lot of room for improvement.
Below, we’ve put under a microscope every aspect of the Oculus Rift Development Kit 3 or ‘Crescent Bay’ so that you can better understand this bit of technology.
It’s very difficult to create 3D gaming environments as it is but if you add stereoscopic 3D, then it evolves to borderline impossible.
The ingenious aspect of Oculus Rift’s 3D is that it alters the angle ever so slightly. Therefore, your brain is tricked into thinking that two, ordinary 2D images are in fact a single 3D image.
The games as a whole have to change as well. The motion blur aspect has to go and static camera cutscenes induce nausea. In order to avoid stuttering and shutter effects, a high but constant 60 framerate is required.
Concerning the cable
Besides the DVI adapter for laptops, the Oculus Rift also comes with USB which enables your device to be powered and carries data to your computer. The 10-foot cable is long enough to provide easy movement without discomfort.
Development Kit 2 comes with a USB port for an eventual controller connection or headphones.
Concerning the positional tracker
The Rift tracks your head’s position in 3D space by a series of infrared LEDs incorporated into the headset. Those LEDs are monitored by a nearby-placed, webcam-like camera. The latest Crescent Bay has LEDs incorporated into the rear of the headset, therefore offering a full, 360 degree perspective.
Concerning the headset
The headset connects to your head via vertical and horizontal straps which also include the HDMI and USB cables. Even though the kit includes sets both for normal vision, near and very nearsighted users, Oculus recommends that you wear contacts despite the fact that you can adjust the distance between the lenses for glasses wear.
Concerning the components
Inside the headset is the Rift’s custom motherboard equipped with an ARM processor and LED control chips. What separates the Rift from other devices is its ‘Adjacent Reality Tracker’ which features a magnetometer, a gyroscope and an accelerometer. Combined, all of these track a lot better all three dimensions of three-dimensionality. Originally, the Adjacent Reality Tracker ran at 250Hz but the latest version runs at 1000 times a second.
Concerning the screen
Development Kit 2 came with a 1920 x 1080 HD touchscreen but with a 960 x 1080 display for each eye, a 60 Hz refresh rate and a 100-degree horizontal field of view. We hope that the Crescent Bay has 1080p for each eye.
Concerning the feedback loop
A huge amount of data is sent back and forth between the positional tracker, the headset, the computer and the software, the result being a smooth VR experience. You can also adjust the brightness, contrast, and even calibrate the Rift itself in accordance with your interpupillary distance (IPD).
Concerning the audio
As we’ve said, the Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) creates a true sense of 3D audio spatialisation.
The company explains that his is achieved via reference. In other words, the software smooths sound coming from the hundreds of points around your head in order to create a more natural sound.