Useful Notes / Oculus Rift

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The Oculus Rift is a new Virtual Reality headset that rejuvenated public interest in VR after it had failed to catch on in The '90s, largely owing to improved field of view that established a sense of presence in the user, low-latency head-tracking, higher resolution, and general instances of Technology Marches On over the past few decades.

It is generally used for gaming, but there are productive uses for the Rift as well, particularly when paired with the Oculus Touch hand controllers.

It had a very successful Kickstarter in late 2012, followed by the release of two Development Kit iterations and several internal prototypes in between the public Development Kits to allow developers to work on VR software prior to the consumer version's eventual release in March 2016. The demand for the the DK1 and DK2 vastly outstripped supply, in part due to attention on social media garnering a fanbase well before the Rift hardware was finalized.

On March 25, 2014, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion, making many people worry about both privacy issues and ads in spite of the Rift developers' insistence that nothing would change.

Finally, on March 2016, the final iteration of the Rift, often referred to by enthusiasts as "Consumer Version 1" or simply CV1 to differentiate it from the earlier Development Kits, released to the public. Reception was good among those who didn't have their pre-orders delayed by several months, but at this point, the Rift already had competition on the horizon in the form of the HTC Vive, which included tracked motion controllers of a sort that the Rift would not have until Oculus Touch's release on December 6, 2016 - a good eight months after the Vive's initial release.

The whopping $599 price tag revealed on pre-order day also tempered excitement, as did the reveal that the Touch controllers would add another $199 to the price several months later. Nevertheless, it has garnered a significant enough userbase to warrant more efforts in VR software development.

On March 1, 2017, the Rift had a significant price cut, with the base HMD being $499 and Touch being halved to $99 after three months, with additional sensors for reliable room-scale tracking now being $59 instead of $79. The software update released the day before also fixed some irksome tracking issues Touch users had to deal with.

Technical Specifications

Rift HMD
  • Dual 1080x1200 OLED panels with 90 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; their spacing can be adjusted to account for user IPD.
  • Integrated microphone and supra-aural headphones, which may be replaced with IEMs sold by Oculus for $49 or removed altogether if the user prefers to use their own headphones or headset.
  • "Constellation" IR tracking system, extendable up to four USB 3.0 camera sensors. (The Rift includes one sensor, the Touch controllers add a second sensor, and additional sensors may be purchased separately for $79 each.)
Touch controllers
  • Two analog triggers - one main trigger, one "grip" trigger for the middle finger used to grasp objects.
  • Two face buttons per controller.
  • One clickable analog stick per controller.
  • Capacitive sensors on all the aforementioned controls that help detect the user's finger positions and allow for gestures such as pointing and thumbs-up to be made, allowing for "hand presence".
  • "Constellation" IR tracking system, same as the main Rift HMD.
  • Rumble feedback.
  • Proprietary wireless interface with the Rift HMD, no additional USB adapter necessary. This means that Touch requires a Rift HMD to function.
  • One AA battery per controller; estimated battery life is 20 hours.

Games with Oculus Rift support:


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