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Oculus Rift Development Kit Review


Conclusion

While the Oculus Rift development kit is light, I find it presses on my face in a way I can't ignore. With the software I tested, I saw a distinct black box around all the images. Definitely better than the other stuff I've tried, but this does take a toll on the immersion.

There is a certain "flatness" that undermines the effect I imagined, and it's not as 3D as I was hoping for. It's just 3D enough to be engaging. It could be my settings, it could be the game designer's choice...or it could be me - maybe my expectations are too high. Time will tell.

HalfLife 2: Now we can hate him on the Y axis as well.
To be fair to Oculus, with any early developer product there is a degree of flexibility and a certain roughness that results from prioritizing delivery over refinement. This was never intended as a consumer product with lots of ergonomic features. For these reasons, I think that I allowed my expectations to exceed my reason. A lot of people have been dreaming about Virtual Reality right along with me, and we must understand that the Oculus Rift's development kit is very much a first step towards a bright future.

My first impression of the Oculus Rift shows it to be a deep well of potential; an idea manifested in its infancy, but one that teeters on the edge of viability. This is a fine edge to balance on, and everything I know about Palmer Luckey and the Oculus team tells me they will hit the mark with their full release product. This device is intriguing to say the least in that despite its flaws, the potential is obvious.

Two decades of sci-fi have shaped an image of what VR should be in my mind, and for better or worse the Rubric that I'm judging my experience by. I want seamless visual integration, a gesture-based interface, and online communities; virtual chat rooms much like those outlined in Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash.

While there is no formal integration, the DIY community along with some technological innovations has made all three of these standards palpably real: the Rift delivers great peripheral vision; the Razer Hydra, Leap Motion Controller, and even the Microsoft Kinect are rapidly bringing fluid gesture control closer; Minecrift and Metacraft, while no Black Sun, promise to be an engaging experience I look forward to testing.

Looking into the Rift's future, there are some distinct improvements that the consumer model will require. Frequently addressed is the display resolution, and yes, this is massively important. However, there's more room for improvement, and I believe this lies in the direction of the lenses. Currently, you can have the lenses practically touching your eye, or you can have a distinct black edge around what you're seeing. Larger, rectangular lenses set in angles would surely be a nightmare to design, but with the right lens shape, I'm confident that the "binocular" effect could be removed.

The Rift would also benefit from a custom made screen with a greater horizontal resolution, and while it's still far in the future, flexible LCD is on its way. This would allow for a smooth ergonomic casing that takes up less room with thinner and wider lenses.

I think my standards for VR were once too high, but as I see this technology unfold, it's clear to me that they are not only feasible, they are also inevitable. I have found a door into Virtual Reality...it's just under construction.