Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift CV1: Everything You Need To Know

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The Virtual Reality revolution is finally open us. With the Oculus CV1 now on it’s way to users, and our news feeds decorated with a healthy flow of VR reviews and articles, all preaching the word of this new dawn of technology innovation to the masses.

If you’re just stumbling on to the subject of Virtual Reality, often abbreviated to ‘VR’, then you may be wondering what it is all about? VR, as we know it today, takes the shape of a head-mounted device that utilises an assortment of technology. A hardware system made up of a variety of complicated sounding components like Gyroscopes, OLED displays, motion tracking sensors and magnetometers.

That said, some would argue that you are effectively just strapping a small computer monitor to your face. Which is true to some degree, but, don’t let this simple explanation fool you.

With the use of some stereoscopic trickery, these devices can transport you into alternate universes, 3D worlds full of rich content that allow you to travel into spaces previously reserved for our dreams.

The latest and biggest milestone in the virtual reality world thus far, was 28th March 2016, when the Facebook-owned, consumer Oculus Rift (CV1) began shipping to eagerly awaiting customers.

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Many things have changed since the first prototype of the Oculus Rift; formed by the hands of a 19-year-old, Palmer Luckey, back in 2012 when he arrived at QuakeCon carrying the duct tape bound, makeshift headset. Still, humble beginnings can often lead to remarkable things, and the latest edition of Rift is certainly a testament to that notion.

The Rift has gone through two major iterations on its journey to the consumer market. Starting with the first development kit back in late 2012 – A cumbersome device that offered a pretty juddery experience. Then came the DK2, arguably a big step up from the first development kit regarding usability, but still a significant measure away from the final product.

The consumer edition of Rift, however, is extremely refined in comparison. And, while it’s not perfect, it is a lot closer to the mark. Some of the most notable upgrades are the aesthetics and ergonomics of the device; the CV1 boasts a sleeker form and the straps are more robust in design. CV1 comes in at a lower weight than its previous versions and also comes with built-in audio. Improvements to the display mean that it now boasts 25% more pixels and 15 more frames per second than the previous DK2. Full specs below:

Display: OLED
Resolution: 2160 x 1200
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
Platform: Oculus Home
Field of view: 110 degrees
Tracking area: 5 x 11 feet
Audio: Built-in
Microphone: Built-in
Controller: Xbox One controller
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, 360-degree positional tracking
Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Price: $600 USD (£529.99 including shipping)

If you’re interested in getting into VR, then price is certainly something to consider. If you’re starting from scratch, meaning, you don’t currently own a computer system that meets Rift’s Minimum Requirments (listed below). Then it is a pretty significant upfront cost to get rolling. There’s the initial cost of the headset plus the high spec rig to run it.

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Oculus Rift Minimum Requirements

Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or better.
CPU: Intel Core i5 4590 or greater.
RAM: 8GB or more.
Video port: HDMI 1.3.
USB port: 2 USB 3.0 ports.
Operating system: Windows 7 SP1 or newer.

There are Oculus-ready PC’s available on the Oculus Store made by ASUS, Dell and AlienWare that start from $949.00, with an option to bundle a PC in with your Rift order for a package deal, starting from $1,499 USD.

Positional Tracking

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One of the other upgrades in the consumer model is 360 positional tracking. There was a blind spot on the back of the DK2 model that meant users were unable to turn their head around and look behind them, without losing connection with the Oculus’ desktop sensor camera. For the CV1, the Constellation Tracking System was introduced by Oculus. A system that uses LED’s mounted at various points across the device, including the back, that allow for full 360 tracking perspective. Even if the user’s head isn’t facing the sensor.

Audio

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The Consumer Oculus Rift comes with built-in, detachable headphones. So users are free to swap them out for a preferred model if they so wish. Oculus also introduced an audio SDK at CES earlier in the year, that allowed for the use of Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) technology.

HTRF is a technology, which when coupled with the data from the Oculus head tracking, can be used to create a realistic soundscape in a virtual environment. More about that here.

Controller

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The Consumer Oculus Rift is shipping with a wireless Xbox one console controller that will give users a way to interact with a virtual world. While this is a slightly limiting way to do it, it does bridge a gap until the Oculus touch controllers are released.

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Oculus touch is the first generation of ‘designed for VR’, handheld controllers from Oculus. Touch is effectively an Xbox controller, cut in half, with motion tracking capabilities. The benefits of the dual controller design mean that users will be able to feel like the have hands in VR. Which, arguably, contributes to the immersion factor. Importantly, the release date of the Touch controllers is delayed, so they won’t be in the hands of consumers the latter end of Q4 2016, and they will come at an additional cost to the Rift. So definitely, something to consider if you’re still toying with the purchase at the moment.

Platform

Oculus Home Landing Page VRRelated

Oculus Home is the official dashboard for Rift. The new home is a significant step to making the VR experience feel a lot more seamless. Users can access content available from the platform inside the headset. Including a library of owned content, purchased/downloaded from the Oculus store. Plus a friend’s list to add a social element, and a bunch of free content. getting started with Oculus Home.

Related: getting started with Oculus Home

Content

Regarding content, there are a few app’s to try. Some of our favourite free app’s are:

Lucky’s Tale: A VR platformer that is very reminiscent of early Nintendo Games, represents the Mascot for the Oculus platform. Lucky’s Tale is 14 levels long with the objective of saving your friend from an Evil villain. Lucky’s Tale comes free for all Rift users, including DK2.

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Farlands: An interesting first person alien discovery game, in which users are tasked with exploring an alien planet to discover more about its inhabitants. Players can teleport between the environments and their small spaceship that hovers over the landscape. By using your scanner, accessed via the Xbox controller D-pad, you can scan and photographer new species that you find. You then earn ‘research points’ by uploading that data to your spaceships on board computer.

Related: VR Karts Review

Stay tuned to VRRelated for more game reviews and VR content.

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