Forget everything you thought you knew about virtual reality.
Once people try on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, any scepticism vanishes. It’s truly that amazing.
In the past, virtual reality headsets were hindered by their limited field of view, making it appear like you were sitting in a dark room facing a television that was several feet from you.
But the Oculus Rift puts you inside the screen, with an enormous field of view expanding so fills your vision. With stereoscopic 3D built in too, the level of immersion is unparalleled.
Head-tracking technology allows the Rift to “keep up” as you turn your head to look around the virtual environment. The best way to describe it: You feel completely immersed in a virtual world. Your real-world surroundings disappear. It can even make you dizzy.
For now, the Rift is still only available to developers who want to create video games compatible with the headset. An HD consumer version with extra features to be released sometime next year.
We’ve been testing the Oculus Rift developer kit for a while now, making sure to put it through the paces. We haven’t had one person try it who hasn’t been blown away.
With the headset’s enormous popularity, many non-developers (like us!) have purchased developer kits without the intention of developing games. Responding to the high demand, Oculus founder Palmer Lucky mentioned that consumers would do better to wait for the finished product, as it will improve upon many of the device’s features.
But there are many willing to put up with a lower resolution developer unit with limited content just so they can experience tech’s bleeding edge, and the library of compatible games and free tech demos is growing each day.
Here’s a taste of what you can do with the Oculus Rift developer kit right now. It will only get better.
The Oculus Rift attaches to a relay box, which then hooks up to your computer. This allows the headset to be lighter. The relay box can be plugged in by either an HDMI or DVI cable.
You can register at Oculus' official site, which will give you access to their custom Rift developer software and Tuscany demo.
The Rift comes with three sets of lenses (for nearsighted, farsighted, and those with contacts or perfect vision).
You can also adjust how close the screen sits to your face with the dials located on the side of the Rift.
The lenses expand the image to make it appear like it surrounds you, while in reality the Rift only has a 7
RiftCoaster is a popular free tech demo that puts you at the helm of a medieval roller coaster. With the Rift's head tracking, you can peer over the edge of the cart, or look up into the sky.
For games that require more than just looking around, you can use a keyboard and mouse, an Xbox 360 controller, or the Razer Hydra motion controller. The Hydra features a magnetic field that allows for very precise positional tracking, and works great with virtual reality games.
The Oculus Rift subreddit is filled with recent news. There's also a list of helpful links on the sidebar for finding new demos and compatible games. You can check it out at reddit.com/r/oculus
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