New Oculus Rift "Crystal Cove" Dev Kit Can Track Head Position, Eliminates Motion Blur

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News Posted: Tue, Jan 7 2014 6:19 PM
Ever since it debuted on Kickstarter, the makers of the Oculus Rift have promised to deliver the kind of VR experience that the late 90s and blithely promised and never created. Each developer kit or milestone has substantially improved on the underlying technology, with higher resolutions, better eye alignment, faster refresh rates, and less flickering or motion blur.

The new developer kit debuting at CES 2014 is, according to multiple sources, truly amazing. New versions of the kit are using an OLED screen rather than the traditional LCD technology of previous variants. The motion blur that still popped up on the older units has been nearly eliminated, and the lag time is down to just 30ms, from 60ms in older kits.

The other major innovation of the new kits, dubbed Crystal Cove, is head position tracking. Right now, Oculus is delivering this via sensors mounted on the headgear and a camera, but stressed to convention-goers that the technology was an experiment and might not come to market. Integrating a positional camera means that the Oculus Rift can track more than just your head turns -- it can also track leaning forward or backwards.



According to the hands-on report from Engadget, the latest kit creates readable displays and gauges, as well as letting the user move their head more normally for better overall motion tracking.
Oculus VR director of dev relations Aaron Davies has us pause so that he can toggle one of Crystal Cove's newest features: "low persistence." We turn from left to right, unable to read the blurred text in front of us. He flips a switch, and voila: no motion blur. Well, very little. It's a far cry from the first Kickstarter dev kit we used many moons ago and, despite the importance of positional tracking, makes a tremendous impact on the usability of the Rift.
The Rift Could Truly Rock:

Let me take off my reporter hat for a moment and be blunt: When it comes to reinventing gaming, I'm a total cynic. I've tested 3D and multi-monitor displays, enjoyed both, and seen both fail to gather more than niche acceptance. I've seen more peripherals come and go than I can remember. It's not that I'm against innovation in gaming, but that so many of the proposed "improvements" have been sharply limited. Touch screens and console controllers may make for compelling experiences in their own right, but creating a new technology that truly offers a new experience is extremely difficult. For all the improvements in resolution, color, and speed, we play games in front of glowing rectangles today -- the same way we played them 30 years ago.

I think the Oculus Rift really could change that. The immersion difference between seeing a monitor and seeing a game fill your entire visual field is enormous. Eliminate the motion blur and the tracking issues, and you've got a peripheral that could change the entire way we game. Put that peripheral at a price people can afford, and the Oculus Rift could blow the roof off.

Obviously conventional gaming isnt' going to go anywhere; there are plenty of times when I want to be aware of what else is going on around me. There are also questions about just how easily developers will be able to support the peripheral. It's not a sure-fire thing yet -- but it's the gaming techno    logy I'd bet on if asked to pick them from a list.  
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I personally think the Oculus Rift is the most important piece of tech to be developed for gaming (and other 3D applications in general). I know that when they become available, I'm going to buy one (even if I have to save up for it).

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kalqlate replied on Tue, Jan 7 2014 10:16 PM

Not only revolutionary for gaming but also for so many other applications... Bing and Google Earth exploration, any of the many surround photo environments. With the latter, I imagine it will be the beginning of truly amazing telepresence experiences.

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sevags replied on Wed, Jan 8 2014 1:12 PM

Kalqlate is so right! I game, but I haven't been a "gamer" for 6-7 years now. The Rift makes me dream about the type of gaming I have only dreamed about since a kid (it is pretty much this and the next step would be a holodeck straight from Star Trek TNG) but I HOPE this tech becomes useful for more than just gaming. I can imagine a camera added to the front to project the real world into my field of vision but with augmented reality, maybe a HUD that's ultimately controlled like Google Glass. The most exciting part for me would be live interaction with video content! I can imagine watching a movie where I can actively walk around the scene, change my point of view, focus my attention on something other than what the director intended, and possible interact with objects and people or like a holodeck becomes one of the characters in the story (arguably this would be considered a roleplaying game though?). What about medical applications for hospitals to "look' inside you with the aid of traditional medical devices connected to Rift. What about a humanoid type Mars lander fully controlled using rift to give a first-person POV on other planets?? There are so many possibilities which is why there is a good chance Rift WILL "blow the roof off", just have to start off with gaming to infuse some cash into the tech, then win a government contract (can you say Drone controller?), and watch this really take off.

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Joel H replied on Wed, Jan 8 2014 2:02 PM

I think the fact that the Oculus fits over your face makes any kind of headmount difficult. I've worn one, and while the weight is perfectly acceptable, this isn't anything as svelte as Google Glass (which hasn't exactly won awards for being svelte).

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Jan 9 2014 11:13 AM

I own the Oculus dev kit, and can say with certainty that these guys are going to be filthy rich. It's an amazing product, and they are making good and constant progress in all the right directions.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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sevags replied on Thu, Jan 9 2014 2:26 PM

3vi1; what!?!?!?!? you do!!?! HOW?!?!?!? more q's and exclamation points just because!??!?!?!

where do you live? may I come test it out with you and never take it off?? hehe

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Jan 12 2014 7:56 AM

sevags: You can buy it here - https://www.oculusvr.com/order/ ($300). It comes with a cool carrying case, and you get access to the developer forums, demo code, and firmware updates.

It blows minds when I show HL2 to people with just it and my Linux laptop;  It really adds a whole new dimension to the game.  The higher resolution and reduced blur of the new version will be a welcome upgrade, as the dev kit suffers a bit from "screen door effect" due to the 1280x800 screen and makes me a bit motion sick after a while.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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CDeeter replied on Wed, Jan 15 2014 6:39 PM

Hmm running on a laptop? Didn't expect that. What kind of frame rate are you seeing, and besides Half Life what other games have you tried?

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