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3D virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus Rift struggles to cope with demand, delaying the shipping till March 2013 – Improves technical spec.
With 10,000 backers raising nearly $2.5 million to develop the Oculus Rift, demand, interest and hype is high. Also, at just $300 (about £190) , the kits are highly affordable too.
In a statement, the company said “We wanted to have the developer kits to all our backers before the holidays; but more than that, we want to ship the best Oculus Rift developer kit possible. In order to accommodate the required changes, new features, and manufacturing duration, we had to shift our ship date. We’re happy to be able to finally announce that the Oculus Rift developer kits will begin shipping in March 2013.We want to thank everyone for their patience and support. Know that we’re pouring our hearts into this project.
However, backers are likely to forgive the delay as the displays have been vastly improved since the prototype. The new 1280 x 800 7” display has a faster response time, switching time, better contrast and improved colour quality in comparison to the original 5.6” 720p display, although this has increased the unit’s weight.
More good news for developers and gamers is an announcement that the Oculus Rift developer kit will feature an improved nine degrees of freedom motion sensor, developed internally. Supporting a refresh rate of up to 1000hz, it is said to be several times faster than the previous sensor. In addition to the accelerometer and gyroscope, it also includes a magnetometer, which opens new doors in terms of sensor data and head-tracking.
Work continues with integrating the Unreal Engine 3 and Unity too and the Unreal integration is now in a completely playable/usable state.
The priority for the company is to ship the Oculus Rifts, on a first come, first served basis, to the Kickstarter backers with all ‘rewards’ sent out by mid-April. Once the tooling has been finalised and the factory is full throttle with production, we’ll be able to produce over 500 developer kits each day.
It will be interesting if the Oculus Rift can really deliver the 21st Century virtual reality promises of the 1990’s.
One of the unique aspects of the unit is its high field of view (the extent of the observable world that is seen at any given moment) of 110 degrees diagonal. Rather than feature two separate displays, one larger display is split into a left and right image of 640 x 800 pixels by two lenses. With such highly accurate tracking and a wide stereoscopic field of view, this could have massive implications for immersive gaming – especially survival horror titles like Dead Space. Horror game Montas, is described as terrifying and already supports the Oculus Rift as do games DOOM 3 BFG Edition and Hawkin. Existing stereoscopic games won't work with Oculus Rift by default and new gameplay features are needed to make a game compatible but Oculus hope there are plenty of game developers who soon integrate Oculus technology into their upcoming titles and begin creating new games designed specifically for virtual reality.
Palmer Luckey, Founder, Oculus VR, will be doing the keynote speech at the EVOLVE Conference, London, December 11th, where he will discuss where VR stands today, where we’re going, and how VR will push games to the next level.
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