One of the features of the Oculus ‘Crystal Cove’ prototype revealed at CES was the long-promised positional tracking, via an external camera an LEDs on the headset. It’s important for reducing simulator sickness as it allows a more 1:1 tracking of your motion. But more critically such tracking allows new gameplay and experience opportunities; peering around corners, inspecting objects and the world as naturally as you do in real life. Want to look at something a bit more closely? Move your head.
The demo uses your webcam to track your head, allowing 4 degrees of motion tracking. This if reflected in a scene of the Crystal Cove prototype (thanks Chris!) and a view of what the IR-filtered camera sees. Shy of the 6 needed to fully track the motion (currently).
What is it good for specifically? If extended you could use the simulated IR camera data to develop and test tracking algorithms, comparing to a ‘true’ data, such as the webcam head tracking. So, engineering.
Another possibility is for marketing. While an in-person demo might be the ideal way to showcase the Rift to consumers there are other contexts such as the web in which it could be valuable to demonstrate the various functional aspects of the technology, interactively.
But of course the main goal would be actual in-game usage of positional tracking. A very basic demo, Fifa VR, demonstrates being able to lean in to get a better view, move one's head up and down to change ones perspective. Positional tracking opens up a ton of interesting possibilities.
More to come on a fuller native (Unity) tracking solution, no DK2 needed.
There’s been some recent discussion of when the consumer Rift will come out, largely brought upon by Steam Dev Days within two years remarks. The pessimism is not warranted.
“2014 is going to be a big year for VR.” Oculus VP Nate Mitchell
Which CEO Brendan Iribe confirmed. It's hard to have a big year if nothing comes out.
What else is there to go on besides some admittedly vague statements? For one they’ve repeatedly said they intend to under promise and over deliver, a late timeline wouldn’t help that intention. But briefly there are a few more considerations:
- existence of large studios committing significant resources with deadlines in 2014, which would not be the case with an unknown launch date period
- not-so-subtle hints from industry veterans
- an experienced startup mentality of knowing the real need to ship, without getting caught in traps such as always increasing the scope (too much) to make it better, knowing when it’s good enough
- competition: this is a competitive landscape where even those slow to the realization of the potential will eventually make a strong play making the clock run down to be first to market with an outstanding product, which must is the strategic goal for VR
What does a 2014 introduction of VR to the masses mean for 2014? A more intriguing question that I will address. It’s not easy to understand the scale of the impact, only easy to underestimate it.
in the next two months
Just a quick note on my near term plans, which all revolve around VR. In the next few months I will be releasing some projects that explore some intriguing non-game, even non-'experience', ideas about where VR ecosystem could and should head in it's near term to truly fufill its potential.
I'll be posting all of my work here and on the Twitter, where in addition I'll preview what's coming down the line, so you should follow me to get a peak at one vision of the future of VR.
At a minimum, things somewhere on the intriguing-provocative spectrum.
With the Oculus "Crystal Cove" prototype at CES getting such rave reviews based on a number of significant improvements, including a low persistence mode and a higher res display, I
wanted needed to know how it compared. Now, not having my hands on such or similar hardware (yet… stay tuned) I thought a basic interactive simulation would be able to give a rough, qualitative picture of the improvement possible between the current dev kit (DK1) specs and the consumer kit.
You can try it here.
It achieves that goal somewhat, and will even more with a bit more work. The elimination of motion blur with low persistence mode enabled makes a big difference, as widely reported. The resolution changes should fairly similarly eliminate the dreaded 'screen door' effect.
Feedback for improvements or other thoughts welcome. And you can always fork it.
why i'm going all in on VR
The final thing that convinced me of the not only inevitable but quickly approaching tsunami that is virtual reality happened one month ago. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a startup with no shipped consumer product had those who experienced their VR headset prototype astounded.
The possibility of this sentiment being soon echoed on a mass scale seems unavoidably world changing. If VR is going to change the landscape it follows that I must ready myself for it.
The only real question that remains is what is the best course for the future knowing this is on the horizon? How to figure out where the best opportunities lie to be a part of this. It's too exciting a possibility to consider another course.
Thinking about the VR landscape and building something grand on this fertile terrain is now my main pursuit. I will be sharing my journey, in both words, code, and soon, experiences.
Cubli. I could use the sub-components used, namely the reaction wheels, for a project in the works. What's cool is it enableds not only self-balancing for small impulses but active maneuvers…
Can't wait for this. Was that a sandworm I saw? Transitioning between such varied scales without cuts is something subtle. No Man's Sky, eta not soon enough.
"these images were distorted through manual editing of the image files in a text editor, not through intricate Photoshop work."
Interesting process, reflective of how glitches would actually occur. Work of Rob Sheridan, for 'The Social Network' marketing.
Kit FUI is a nice set of caps of those on-screen interfaces of the future. Warning: time sink.
Lovely. Just a camera in a game environment + soundtrack makes something very watchable, no interaction needed.
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