GDSee: The New Oculus Rift Developer Kit Arrives

By Craig Pearson on March 19th, 2014 at 4:30 pm.

At last! I have some actual news from GDC (I was beginning to worry that it had all been a hoax), and it’s the news I anticipated the most: Oculus has finally debuted the second version of the Rift headset. The new set has 1080p per-eye, positional head-tracking and a low persistence OLED display, something the tech cried out for when I tried it with Elite. They charmingly still don’t consider it a consumer-grade product, so they’re hopeful the device will end up on the faces of developers and not fans and gamers looking to get a quick tech fix, but the new headset does seem to make a compelling case for removing a significant amount of money from my wallet.

The salient specs are 960 x 1080 pixels per eye at 75 Hz. It’s not quite at the level Valve’s Valve’s research suggests is optimal for the tech to flourish, but it’s only 20 Hz off. And it looks like Oculus is going down the route of using external camera to gauge where your head is, which tracks the position of infra-red LEDs that have been fitted to the inside of the unit. Magic!

RPS has three people down on the floor at GDC, so I hope one of them saunters over to the Rift and presses their face into whichever unit is free. The unit costs $350 and can be pre-ordered today, but Oculus would rather consumers waited.

.

67 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Very nice. Tempted to take the plunge to start trying to hack out code for it. Any idea when it’s supposed to be out, or does pre-order mean “we’ll send you one when we get round to making them”?

    • BobbyDylan says:

      From their website:

      ” We expect to begin shipping the first batch of DK2s in July, and we’ll ramp up production based on interest”

  2. Premium User Badge

    Fitzmogwai says:

    Damn you Palmer Luckey: just give me a consumer version that I can buy. Look! I have money, here, to give to you!

  3. SIDD says:

    “The new set has 1080p per-eye […] The salient specs are 960 x 1080 pixels per eye at 75 Hz.”

    So 1080p for both eyes COMBINED, not 1080p PER eye?!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Since when is 960x1080p a “1080p” spec?

      • SIDD says:

        “Since when is 960x1080p a “1080p” spec?”

        That was sort of my point!

    • Malarious says:

      It’s a single 1920×1080 screen split in half length-wise, providing 960×1080 per eye.

      • paranoydandroyd says:

        Technically, 1080p just means that there are 1080 vertical pixels and a progressive scan.

        • Premium User Badge

          Rizlar says:

          Yeah, that’s what I thought. So it may not be what monitor users mean by ‘1080p’, but that’s their fault really for misusing the term. :P

          Personally I just want a Rift strapped on my head right now, but if they would rather consumers wait for an even higher res one with a faster refresh rate I’m inclined to trust them.

      • SIDD says:

        “It’s a single 1920×1080 screen split in half length-wise, providing 960×1080 per eye.”

        …which is kind of silly to call that 1080p.
        As SurlyWombat raises below if you close one eye, the horizontal resolution of your monitor doesn’t “magically” reduce to 50%, so spec’ing the new Oculus as being 1080p is a bit of a liberal interpretation.

        • AyeBraine says:

          If you close one eye while looking out of the window, you lose half of your field of view _AND_ depth perception. Isn’t that a sham.

          • SIDD says:

            “If you close one eye while looking out of the window, you lose half of your field of view …”
            If you keep your eyes fixed forward and close one of them, then it’s pretty obvious that No!…you do not lose half your field of view because unless you have seriously wonky eyes then there’s an overlap….and you sure as hell do not lose “half the resolution” either so I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make with your analogy?

    • ludde says:

      Yeah that was pretty misleading.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Surlywombat says:

    Question for our esteemed community, is it fair to call it 1080p?

    After all when watching a screen Normally I use both eyes to watch 1920×1080. This is 960x 1080 for each eye, philosophically an I doubling my viewing or halving it. I’ll still only “see” (by which I mean, when the light my eyes see is interpreted by my brain) 920 pixels won’t I? They will just be different for each eye?

    Or am I confused beyond belief.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      No, [forget it, I can’t spell].

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        I’m so so sorry. I cannot stop myself.
        “You’re”
        “They’re”
        Don’t hit me.

        • Synesthesia says:

          Don’t worry. He deserved it. Too much is too much.

        • Premium User Badge

          particlese says:

          To high-five, or not to high-five, that is the question.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Your right. It’s “They’re” and “you’re” I know this. However tell both my eyes and fingers when typing. Sorry, I’m… human. Plus I can only process spellings or verbal language via it’s sound. Any silent letters are lost to me. :(

          • Axess Denyd says:

            Well then all of the words you type should sound like the clicking of your keyboard! ;-)

          • TechnicalBen says:

            They do. Well, except it’s not sound. It’s muscle memory.

            Ever had trouble remembering a pin or the password, but can type it perfectly when you don’t think about it? That’s your muscle/sub concious memory. :)

          • dangrak says:

            Maybe then like the rest of us you could train your muscle memory to actually spell the right words

    • griffin_jt says:

      I think it’s fair to call it 1080p: for a regular 1080p screen the same information reaches each of your eyes. In this case each eye has separate information as it’s rendered from a different angle. So unless you’ve got a dominant eye, or have chosen to sport an eyepatch, you’re still receiving 1080p’s worth of information.

      On the other hand, much of this information is aimed at your peripheral vision, so to get the same quality as 1080p on your macular, we need much higher resolutions. Incidentally your peripheral vision is far more sensitive to sharp changes (so “has a faster refresh rate”, to put it in inappropriate terms), I don’t know whether this is of practical consequence.

      A proper spec should be number of pixels per angle, though if you read the valve blog, persistence, refresh rate and quality of optics are just as important as resolution.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        “So unless you’ve got a dominant eye, or have chosen to sport an eyepatch, you’re still receiving 1080p’s worth of information.”

        Let’s (see I can spell!) break that down mathematically.

        When I watch a 2d video, I get to process horizontal of 1920p and vertical of 1080p.
        When I use Oculus Rift I get to process horizontal of 960p and vertical of 1080p. However, of those 960p I get additional information, “depth”.

        This is like trying to add the colour bit rate to the pixel density rate. It does not “compute”. So best to either keep it a separate “stat/number” or just go for it’s true resolution, and not muddle the waters.

        • SIDD says:

          “So best to either keep it a separate “stat/number” or just go for it’s true resolution, and not muddle the waters.”

          Aye – agreed…
          Plus this would mean that we now have to deal with 8:9 in addition to 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios …

    • Nalum says:

      I think technically each eye is getting 1080p. But if you want to talk pure pixels each eye is only getting half.

      As most think of 1080p as 1920×1080 they get 2073600 pixels to both eyes, this being 960×1080 it is half, 1036800 pixels to both eyes, assuming no overlap. So less overall pixels but still 1080p.

    • taristo says:

      It’s correct to call it 1080p, which just says that there are 1080 pixels on the vertical line.
      For instance content displays at 4:3 because it was filmed that way (1440×1080) is still 1080p, just as 960×720 is still 720p.

  5. CookPassBabtridge says:

    What are people’s price points for this? I mean that in the actual sales terminology sense, as in at what price does “want” become “mehhhh”? $350 equates to £210.59. I don’t know if they’ll do BASTARD PRICING, which is to make it 350 “somethings” no matter where you live, but how high would that have to go before you tell them to sling their grubby but oh so technologically advanced hooks? £350 does feel like a ceiling to me for the full commercial release.

    • SIDD says:

      Well…
      I was considering getting a 3-monitor setup for games like ARMA3.
      3 monitors would require at least an additional gfx card for SLI in addition to having to buy the monitor mount.
      Even using the cheapest monitors and mount this would easily run to the £600-900 range (including the extra gfx card) which is simply way too much for me.
      If someone offered me the Oculus solution for £350 (with 1080p resolution in EACH eye), I’d definitely go for it as it would give me more benefits than 3 screens (wider field of view so to speak) without the overhead of having to crunch 3x1080p resolution at a much sweeter price.

      Of course I wouldn’t complain if it arrived in the UK for £209.59 ;)

    • dorn says:

      It depends on the end product. $350 at this resolution is too high.

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        It’s close to the price of a good 23-24″ IPS monitor. I wouldn’t call that too much, considering all the additional tech that goes into it.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      I’m fairly sure they keep saying the consumer version is going to be cheaper than the dev version, so I’m not worried about it being 350$ or 350€.
      250 though? That’s a good price for The Future.

    • frightlever says:

      FYI, $350 equates to $462 delivered to the UK and taxes paid, which is a bit under £300.00 and about a ton more than I’d want to pay for the consumer unit.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        It’s £291 including VAT (which is handy as customs always seem to spot my un-taxed goodies coming through). Or to put it another way, about the amount of money I was going to spend on a new monitor.

    • Lestibournes says:

      Actually, “bastard pricing” would offer me a huge discount, as it would end up costing me only 100 USD.

  6. P.Funk says:

    “And it looks like Oculus is going down the route of using external camera to gauge where your head is, which tracks the position of infra-red LEDs that have been fitted to the inside of the unit.”

    So basically its a TrackIR that detects where a small monitor attached to a face harness is in space.

    Someone explain to me how Oculus itself isn’t just client software development using partly consumer-ready technology thats just waiting for small scale monitors to catch up in terms of quality and affordability.

    In other words, what is or will be remarkable about the Oculus unit itself? Once Oculus ships and we get support for it in lots of games can I just make my own face hugging monitor assembly and pair it with my TarckIR or generic Webcam using some kind of freeware community created program ala Facetrack Noir or Freetrack or some such? Better yet, why can’t I just use a trackir and have the headset LEDs do the head tracking while the monitor on my face just does the displaying and nothing else?

    Basically, is Oculus just a trail blazer that will more than anything force developers to cater to VR support and drive the price of smaller face sized LCDs down while doing nothing that is particularly difficult on its own, other than making people want it?

    • Volcanu says:

      I can’t answer that question, but even if Oculus just takes a load of existing technologies and implements them all into a user friendly, attractive package – ala Apple products- then I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

    • identiti_crisis says:

      Their main contribution I think is to reduce latency of the entire package, head movement to screen update to the point of it not being noticeable, so that wearers actually feel immersed. Also, 1920x1080p at 75 Hz over *some* interconnect or other (currently HDMI, I think) is a technical problem for such a headset apparently, and they want more pixels more often still, if possible.

      With the IR tracking they add translation to the miniature, high-precision, low-latency rotational tracking already present, as well as a(n other?) possible means of combating “drift” in that rotational tracking.

      You could indeed make your own, and that’s how this project started and how John Carmack got involved. I believe part of the project is figuring out the creative / game dev side of things, too. Things like how to avoid motion sickness if possible, what control schemes work etc. These efforts should benefit everyone, which is nice since it’s partly “crowd-sourced” by anyone tinkering with the dev kit.

    • RagingLion says:

      Surely the main answer is: to have it in 3D.

      You won’t be able to achieve the whole ‘Presence’ effect without it.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      In addition to the latency point made above, there’s something to said for implementation. You could probably mostly replicate the Rift using TrackIR and a good HMD, but doing so with the same level of comfort and with all the little tweaks specifically for non-vomit-inducing VR at a consumer-friendly price point is a bit of a tall order.

    • Premium User Badge

      Devan says:

      That’s easy to answer. Just do what you said and “strap a monitor to your face” and see how well you can get it to work. If you’re satisfied with that, then don’t spend the money; but it’s not nearly as simple as you seem to think.

    • taristo says:

      Well if you can:
      – Find a low latency 5″ OLED monitor and write the software for it to split games into two parts for stereoscopic 3D rendering and morph the picture correctly to offset for the optics
      – Make yourself two pairs of optics that actually do the job they are set out to do and casing to connect said monitor and optics to your head.
      – Write your own software and possible drivers that is helping to reduce the displays latency in many ways and helps games recognize your self-built kit as a Oculus Rift-alike
      – Remove motion blur with low persistence display technology and find some way to operate it at ~90Hz
      – Think of and integrate a 6DOF positional tracking system that really works just as well (Oculus developed their own infrared camera and set up LEDs all outside the HMD) and implement a workable and fast sensor fusion for all the pieces
      – All of that with a weight limit of about 300 gramm or so

      You can go ahead and do that, it only took Oculus as a company somewhat like 2 years to put all of that together and they still haven’t released a market product, SONY isn’t even as far but I’m sure you’ll do fine. Personally I think just buying one would be cheaper.

    • psuedonymous says:

      “So basically its a TrackIR that detects where a small monitor attached to a face harness is in space. “
      Which (TrackIR) itself is just Vicon using a cheap webcam (read their spec sheet carefully, they list interpolated values) and a flimsy passive fiducial.

      Honestly, Outside-In Optical Marker Tracking is the great grandaddy of volumetric position tracking for a reason. It’s robust, doesn’t require you to calibrate a whole bunch of fiducials (the reason why the room-of-AR-markers technique Valve used is unsuitable for consumers), relatively cheap for larger volumes and high precisions (compared to Polhemus/Sixense-style megnetic tracking), etc etc. With a single camera and a fixed fiducial relationship (e.g. mounted on a rigid HMD) you don’t even need to do in-place calibration! Do all your calibration for your exemplar camera and marker array, then all the consumer needs to do is point the camera at themselves and set the zero position!

  7. DanMan says:

    What “persistence” are they talking about?

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Image persistence, or ghosting / smearing. They shouldn’t have labeled it “motion blur” in that pic, because that kind of makes you think of an intended visual effect rather than something you want to eliminate.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        OK so it means a ghost is there and won’t go away.

        • Premium User Badge

          Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          That’s the story of my life. My great-grandfather Octavian “Octopus” Smingleigh has bedeviled me from the moment of my birth. Always with the judgement and the frowning. Such frowning.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Mike Abrash wrote a series of posts on judder, I found them quite enlightening. Here:

      http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/why-virtual-isnt-real-to-your-brain-judder/

      In a maybe not so surprising twist, it seems that even after you eliminate judder, you still have more problems to solve. Which I guess is part of the reason why this still isn’t the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Yes, like eye movement. There are many, many cues that mean you realise it’s not real. No problem though, we still listen to radio and watch movies.

    • CaidKean says:

      Basically the Low Persistence mode as Oculus team has apparently decided to market it is what anyone else would basically say strobing.

      Strobing backlights are already available in a fair number of LCDs, for example several Sony HDTVs.

      Basically, they are turning off the OLEDs on the Rift for short periods as they refresh the frame to reduce the amount of time the frame is displayed during the transition to a new frame to minimize eye-induced motion blur caused by the sample-and-hold nature of OLED/LCD display technologies.

      For more information on the subject: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463407.aspx

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Oh, so like antialising, but for actual pixel data, not 3d data? For images that fall outside/inbetween pixels?
        Clever.

        • CaidKean says:

          If one is to simplify it as much as possible I guess one could say that basically backlight strobing (LCD) or just strobing (OLED) is an attempt to make these sample-and-hold monitors behave as impulse-driven monitors (CRT and Plasma).

          The positive side is noticeably reduced motion blur caused by eye-tracking (http://www.testufo.com/#test=eyetracking a good demo).

          The negative side is that it reintroduces CRT-style flicker. Hence why in the case of the Oculus Rift it is important to have a refresh rate of 75 Hz or higher because 60 Hz flicker can induce headaches in a lot of people, hence why for computer CRT monitors 75 Hz or higher was the standard for highest refresh rate.

          You probably don’t remember getting headaches from CRT TVs because even though they were 50/60 Hz, they often used a more slowly decaying phosphor which made the flickering less noticeable.

  8. Shuck says:

    Just in time to coincide with Sony’s announcement of the Playstation “Morpheus” VR headset. Which sounds suspiciously similar.

    • CaidKean says:

      Well, to be fair, Sony has been putting out 3D OLED HMDs for several years. With or without the Oculus, Morpheus was the next logical step.

      It is just a shame the Morpheus relies on just one monitor rather than the two used in their HMZ line of HMDs.

    • frightlever says:

      Thinking about it, using the Morpheus on a PS4 is going to be a far more consistent experience than any sort of VR headset on a PC, because the PS4 uses a controller, whereas the PC weapon of choice is M+K.

      I pretty much always know where I am with a controller, but I do tend to look at my keyboard a lot. Obviously games that are designed for a controller will work equally well on PC.

      (oh, and the Morpheus doesn’t look suspiciously similar to the OR, it looks far better, mainly because there’s an additional box doing the processing that isn’t attached to your head – which seems like a good idea.)

  9. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    Whoop. Ordered. Will make a nice toy for my uni project.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    Leaning on a sides?! YES YES YES!

    Can’t wait for the final product!!!

  11. Shuck says:

    Sounds like Sony is also doing position tracking via the Playstation camera, and the specs otherwise sound pretty similar. Of course, there are only so many ways of doing this, so technological convergence is likely.

  12. Tiax says:

    Damn, thanks for the heads up, just preordered it.

    I had the first devkit, even with all its flaws it was an incredible device. I sold it to a friend for the same price I paid in the first place, meaning I didn’t lost a dime and now I can buy the devkit 2 with any sense of guilt. SUCCESS.

  13. heldelance says:

    The money I’m throwing at the screen keeps bouncing off!!! Just take my money already!!!

    • Spacewalk says:

      You’re supposed to throw it at both monitors.

      • heldelance says:

        Maybe if I tape it to the screens…

        • Spacewalk says:

          You could also draw a line down the centre of your monitor and throw money at both sides equally. If you cross your eyes like with one of those Magic Eye pictures the money will appear to be in 3D so you’re halfway there already.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            No, just put the money in an envelope addressed to “A. C. Smingleigh, Smingleigh Manor, Grambly-on-the-Wet” and send off an orphan with a shilling to deliver it to your friendly local postmaster for hasty dispatch.

  14. SystemiK says:

    I’m sitting here thinking about how many beers I’m going to spill while wearing this contraption (hint: an absolute mountains worth). My new definition of immersion breaking will be having to lift the goggles off of my face every few minutes in order to locate and sip from my tasty adult beverage of choice.

    Suggestion: The Rift needs to incorporate a cheap webcam in the front panel which can be activated by hotkey, allowing the wearer to quickly pop into “desk view” mode just long enough to locate our beverage/phone/girlfriend/bacon/shotgun/etc.

  15. Sharongamer978 says:

    What pricing will the consumer version be?