Oculus are taking pre-orders for the second iteration of their Rift developer kit, which will start shipping on a first-come, first-served basis in July. It’ll cost $350, and benefits from a head tracking camera - as well as a “major breakthrough” in its OLED display.
The Rift now uses a player-facing camera for head tracking which makes movement much higher fidelity. Combined with a new low persistence OLED - likely one of the “insights” Oculus have applied from Valve’s in-house VR prototype - the dev kit 2 reportedly goes some way to achieving the company’s twin goals of “presence and comfort” in VR.
“If you have an LCD, and you move your head, the scene just swims and you get terrible motion blur,” said Oculus VP of product Nate Mitchell at GDC today. “Now, you turn your head left and right, and the scene stays locked in place. Text is more readable. It was a major breakthrough for DK 2.”
The Rift dev kit 2 weighs 440g, pushes 960x1080 pixels into each eye, and features three persistence settings: 2 ms, 3 ms, and full.
Our Rob is on the floor at GDC, and saw some “incredible shit” in the new Rift’s demo. Standing above a miniature dungeon in a mock-up tower defence game, he was able to lean down and view the scenery at eye-level. As for presence: Rob described a sense of place so strong as to be “eerie”.
So what’s holding Oculus back from that consumer release? Mitchell was candid: a stronger display, improved optics and better ergonomics, for starters - as well as perfecting the weight, fit and feel of the goggles themselves.
“A lot of it is on software experience side: when you take it home, it should just work,” he said. “How do you discover content? What's the first experience you're going to play? Where is the content? The core is there for developers to build great content, but developers are still on that journey with us.
“For the consumer version, it should be easy. Anyone should be able to grab a Rift, plug it in, and have fun. We're not there yet.”
For the time being, Oculus would prefer if consumers, us lot, held back from buying the dev kit as an entertainment device. The consumer version, says Mitchell, is going to be “so much better.”
“We know it’s not ready for consumers,” he said. “How do you balance that from being an open platform where everyone can get involved, and disappointing people? All I can say is, for consumers, wait, wait, wait. It'll be worth it.”
The man talks sense in principle, but fat chance: we’re spending our summers face-hugging Skyrim. How about you?