Oculus Rift: Round 2 ... and a Challenger on the Horizon

March 24th, 2014:

Oculus Rift has made a lot of noise since unveiling its newest prototype dubbed “Crystal Cove” earlier this year at CES. It sports a 1080p OLED display, positional head tracking, and features an ultra-low persistence experience making the commonly criticized blur of its current iteration a nuisance of the past.  The response to these improvements has been about as good as one could dream of having, leaving the biggest question hanging in peoples’ minds to be, “When can I get my hands on one?”

 Hopefully, the Tech Gods bless us with a consumer version by year’s end, but if it is still some time before a consumer ready version is available it would be nice if we could at least see a development kit round two. Hopefully this is a possibility, given Oculus’ shrewd approach to allow developers to create applications in parallel with their efforts to refine and improve upon the hardware by selling prototype versions of the headset.  Not only does this create a solid base of content as well as understanding of its capabilities prior to commercial release, but offers up much fun for the anxious consumer as well as an insatiable hunger for more.

On the opposite end of the spectrum it has been rumored that Sony plans to unveil a fully polished consumer ready competitor to the Oculus Rift at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, March 17-21. Sony’s current head mounted display aimed toward a cinematic experience, HMZ-T3W, at 3 times the cost is not even in the same league as the Oculus Rift. It offers the view of the equivalent of a 750 inch screen from 20 meters away strapped to your head. Although, this is quite an immersive theater like experience, it still leaves you feeling as if you are looking through a window into another world, whereas when wearing the rift you feel as if you’ve jumped right on through the window and have entered an alternate reality. For Sony’s sake as well as the sake of competition I hope they have succeeded in creating the overwhelming sense of immersion a true virtual reality experience requires with their rumored Rift rival.

… And what if they have matched or even surpassed the Rift in certain areas of development?  Will that be the end of the road for the folks at Oculus? Will Oculus be overcome by the giant that is Sony? …or will the following they have created in the last couple of years with the release of their development kit and the games being tailored for it carry them past the inevitable competition they will face in the coming years. Have they already captured the emotion of the consumer and created a loyalty to their cause so early in the game? … only time will tell, but I will be keeping my eye on Oculus.

- Timothy Haughton, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer Goddard Inc.

Want to see more? Get a walkthrough video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GpNQHNkJY1g

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