Oculus Rift –– Features, specs and everything you need to know

Maybe you've heard about the Oculus Rift, but to those who don't know, it's a virtual-reality headset that you wear on your face to enter digital worlds. The startup behind this concept Oculus VR got into limelight for raising $2.44 million on crowd funding platform Kickstarter, later it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.
From there on, two companies are working to bring out the consumer product, and now finally they announced the price of the headset and made pre-order up for grab. You can do from here.

The Basics

  • Price: US$499/£499/AUS$649, before tax and shipping cost.
  • Release date: Pre-orders are live, shipment starts from March 28, 2016.
  • Requires PC, works with Windows and Linux. Mac not supported.

      What's in box?

  • Oculus Rift Headset
  • Xbox One controller
  • Wireless Receiver
  • Oculus Remote
  • Senor
  • Two games: the space shooter EVE:Valkyrie and the 3D platformer Lucky's Tale

Tech Specs

  • 1080p OLED screen running at 90Hz refresh rate
  • 960-by-1080 pixels per eye
  • 100 degree field of view
  • Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
  • Full 6 degree of freedom rotational and positional tracking
  • 3D Audio Effect by Visisonics
  • HDMI and USB cable
  • Weighs less than 1 lb
  • System Requirement: GPU NVDIA GeFore GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 with intel i5 processor

How it works?

Virtual Reality in simple terms is, tricking your brain into perceiving a virtual world as real. It's kind of entering into a video game in literal terms, right from your drawing room.

When you wear Rift headset, your field of vision is replaced with a digital image, and your head movements changes your perspective in simulation as well, which creates an artificial sensation that you are inside the game. The geeks who works with VR call it "presence." When you goes through it, your body can't exactly sense what is real, and what you're seeing in the Rift.

Display

The Rift screen are OLED Screens, the same screen what we see in high end smartphone. So, let's start by understanding a simple thing, how VR developers manage to replace your field of vision with a digital image in front of your eyes?
The Oculus Rift uses two display panels and two lens with each screen covering a different eye, which produces a 3D effect. However, this concept is altogether different from 3D movies, which are fixed screen and designed knowing exactly where the users eyes are. That's the reason 3D movie able to display same image and stereo to all the audience at the same time, but at fixed screen.

Tracking and Rendering

This sounds great, right? now let's understand how head and body movements are tracked? The Rift needs to know when's the user's head moves in order to display the updated image on screen, and this has to be done with speed and accuracy to make it feel real. So, Rift uses Tracking and Rendering technique which only takes about twenty milliseconds to change the image on screen without user noticing the delay. Apart from that, there are number of sensors that detect tilt and orientation. If the system updates images slowly, the immersion will get broken and the users feels sick. 
VR requires fast rendering, and at present there's no such headset that can overtake Oculus as Rift runs at 90 Frames per second, which is faster than most high-end PC games. Which also means, each frame takes 11 milli seconds to render, leaving 9 milli seconds to handle everything else like measure the motion, send the data to display and change the pixels.

Controller

The Rift comes with an Xbox one controller because most of it's games are designed for gamepad. However, gamepad is not that high end to work like magic on VR input. So, you need a motion controller, something that actually makes you feel like you're in virtual world.
To solve that problem, controller comes with Oculus Touch, an optional add-on for the Rift. These are small controllers that wrap around your hands and tracked using an external camera. The Touch has several buttons, a joystick and a trigger, that can track your thumb, index and middle fingers, detecting your gesture and pick up objects in VR.

First Impression Verdict

Without a second thought, Oculus is way ahead of it's arch-rivals not only in technical specs but also in accuracy and speed. It's comfortable to wear, it comes with removable audio pieces and Oculus Touch is quite an experience. The downside is it's too bulky, wired and need an expensive PC to use it.

Nevertheless, not bad for a starter, but it will be interesting to watch how Samsung and HTC will respond to the Rift hype. Till then, stay tune.

And, do let us know your views in comments, we love to hear them.

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About Mohammed Rizwan

An Electronics Engineer by education, a part-time blogger by passion. He loves everything about technology, hence he writes about it. Interest includes Technology, Startups and Mobile Applications.
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