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Oculus Rift Crescent Bay Prototype Shown, Looks Comfy

Good news for people who like spinning around in their chair. This weekend saw the Oculus Connect conference take place, at which Oculus’ many smart people gave talks about the future and current state of VR. In between talks by Abrash, Iribe and Carmack, Oculus also revealed their latest prototype, called Crescent Bay. It features “new display technology, 360° head tracking, expanded positional tracking volume, dramatically improved weight and ergonomics, and high-quality integrated audio.”

The new kit was available to play at Oculus Connect, with a new set of demos designed to show off the increased sense of “presence” provided by the device. If that word sounds familiar, that’s because that’s what Valve called it when they worked on their own VR prototype. Michael Abrash, now at Oculus, headed that team at Valve.

Oculus Connect also further detailed the company’s partnerships with software firms: Epic provided another playbale Unreal Engine 4 demo called Showdown; while Unity announced a free Rift add-on that would make the VR device “an official platform and build target” for the favored indie development software.

Lastly, Oculus gave more detail of the headphones now built-in to the machine. They’ve licensed audio technology made by a company called RealSpace3D, which should allow for proper positional audio in games designed to support the head-spinning headset.

It’s interesting that they’ve built headphones into the set and seemingly made steps to improve the “weight and ergonomics”. I’ve used the DK1 and DK2, and in both what puts me off most is that it feels like I’ve strapped a TV screen to my face. If this is lighter, and perhaps less hot against your face, then that’s a more exciting step forward than if they’d increased the resolution.

Although the conference is over, you can still watch some of the livestreams on Twitch’s archive. Here’s hour-long the keynote panel with John Carmack, Palmer Luckey and some other people saying things I don’t fully understand.

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Graham Smith

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