Facebook-owned Oculus on Saturday unveiled a new virtual reality headset prototype, called “Crescent Bay.”
“None of this is perfect just yet, but it’s a huge step forward,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said at the announcement. “It’s a huge leap over DK2 [the most recent developer kit released for the second-generation Oculus Rift prototype, Crystal Cove.]”
There are major audio advances in the latest VR prototype from Oculus, including 360-degree tracking for a truly immersive experience.
It also comes with integrated audio for the first time, but it’s still optional since many will want to use their own earbuds.
Much of the Oculus “Crescent Bay” software in Saturday’s announcement was demonstrated using Unreal Engine 4, the latest engine from the Epic team. Oculus is also working with Unity, which has one of the biggest Oculus developer communities, and they announced a continued partnership with a dedicated add-on for various levels of support and integration for both free and pro versions of Unity for everyone.
“The most important thing about Crescent Bay is that this allows for sustained presence — for you to achieve the impossible and believe you’re in another world,” Iribe said.
Oculus also announced its new Platform, which will come to Oculus VR later this year and PC later. This new platform for sharing VR experiences is partially helped by the company’s new partnership with Samsung, which will use its Gear VR headset to help developers build new experiences for the Oculus Platform. The company also mentioned Facebook’s $US2 billion acquisition of Oculus, which will give it “the resources and runway” to bring VR to the masses.
Oculus’ chief scientist Michael Abrash insists virtual reality is the final frontier in terms of technology, since it will eventually allow us to experience literally any sensation or feeling — in a video demonstration, he employs how the McGurk effect can make you think there’s a third sensation when there really isn’t.
Abrash says virtual reality is a giant opportunity, but there has yet to be a “killer app.” Details and accuracy like facial expressions and natural body movements are important, and Abrash says virtual and augmented reality tech has a long way to go. It needs new rendering and art approaches, as well as new graphics architectures, to accommodate the “considerable demands” for great virtual reality.
“Soon, there will be games, apps, and experiences that will revolutionise the platform,” Abrash says.