Getting inside the OCULUS RIFT
Over a year ago, Oculus was just an aspiring start-up to the world chasing the dream of virtual reality that has lured countless techno enthusiasts, albeit without much success. When Oculus introduced its flagship virtual reality headset, ‘Rift’, the reception that it got was something no one till date had envisaged. Their Kickstarter campaign launched at the end of 2012 saw a rapturous support from the community garnering about $2.4 million in comparison to its humble goal of $250,000. From the recognition of the stalwarts of the gaming community, ecstatic crowds at CES 2014 to a landmark $2billion deal with Facebook, Oculus Rift have created a storm in the tech community making the world waiting with bated breath to witness the profound shift in virtual reality.
So what exactly is Oculus Rift? How it works? And how it is different?
Many companies have tried their hands on virtual reality, with little or no success. The problem is that most of them were by accompanied by bulky headsets that blurred the vision, gave dizziness along with sickening nausea. What did not work with VR is that the onscreen graphics were not successful in keeping pace with the gamer’s head movement that triggered an onslaught of motion sickness to those who placed them on their heads. Your eyes need to adjust instantly to what happens on the screen. But the problem with older VR sets was when you turn your head wearing it, the image that is present on the screen did not adjust instantaneously. So your system violates against it, and you get sick straight away. It’s even worse than sitting in the biggest roller coaster ride of your life! Though many companies tried to make a head start, the buggy and vision and motion sickness problem that came with it never allowed the whole thing to take it off, the way it was intended.
However, everything changed with Oculus Rift.
Oculus was determined to combat problems like this and million others that came with the VR technology. Oculus designed a tracker that tracks the position of the user, and the game uses this information to detect where the camera should be positioned to allow the user to take an immersive look in the virtual world as if it’s real. The readings from gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer come together to make precise predictions of your head movements without any evident lag to eliminate stomach-churning motion. This is the reason that Rift can pre-render images so fast that it negates the latency issue and saves precious milliseconds.
They used AMOLED displays, external camera to track the headset itself, combined 3D and 360-degree visuals with the widest field of view till now to give out of this world virtual reality experience. The best minds in the industry weaved their hardware and software magic on Rift to provide a sublime experience to the users that is beyond anyone’s imagination. The optics fill your entire vision with images without any distortion, positional tracking lets your move around and approach any in-game object and the AMOLED screens switch the colors in milliseconds without smearing or shaking the image when you move around. When you wear the headset, all the lines between real and virtual world are blurred, and it tricks your brain into believing that you actually exist in a virtual space.
What does it mean to gaming?
A ten-year-kid got absorbed by the idea that how brilliantly the world will look if he can get inside his favorite Gameboy video games and experience it first-hand. This ten-year-kid was none other than Palmer Luckey, who rose to be the founder of Oculus Rift and is questioning and changing the realms of VR every day. Yeah, he is still 21, maybe a kid to the biggest names of the tech world but his accomplishments rise beyond his age.
If video games are your thing, and you can feel your heartbeat skipping a beat every time you open a new game, Oculus Rift is ready to take you to the unfathomable levels of realistic gaming. Imagine this, playing an FPS shooter where you see around all the corners, see your enemies getting exploded right next to you and feel the velocity as you jump from high cliffs. It is like you are actually there, witnessing the scene getting unfold before your eyes. You are not merely just watching or playing a game; you are part of that very environment.
The zombies are real, the nail-biting wars you are fighting are real and so is the cute little elephant that you are riding. It’s no longer just a game, but something much deeper than that. The character you play becomes the extension of yourself and everything around them. You can go looking inside a tunnel, peer around corners to find hiding enemies, peek over while standing on a cliff, and closely inspect various objects at eye level. FPS shooter will become more lethal, scary games will become creepier and racing games will seem swifter.
Many game developers across the world have got hold of the developer’s kit and are creating games that leverage Rift’s unlimited possibilities.
And what about fields other than gaming?
As Mark Zuckerberg has already signaled with its multi-billion dollar deal with Oculus, Oculus promises to bring a paradigm shift in the interactive entertainment and a new era of communication. It’s going to be bigger than we expected.
As the social media giant pointed out, Oculus Rift can bring more to the society than just gaming. We could sit in a classroom and hear to teachers from all over the world, or converse face-to-face with a Doctor sitting in a different country. You can explore the bounties of space without spending millions of money or relish an underwater diving in the deepest part of the ocean without knowing swimming. Imagine seeing Mona Lisa up-close sitting in the comfort of your home and able to see each and every little detail of the great painting. The possibilities are endless.
With Oculus, movies will take a 360 degree turn. 3D will become history and you will be able to see a film where you can have 360-degree vision of the film. We could probably send space drones to the outer world and capture the vastness of the galactic world in its entire splendor and pass it on to the masses. With an unrestricted view of the field, you can feel you are there; you are present to experience it all.
It’s a new brave dawn in the field of virtual reality and, even though, future of Oculus still remains to be seen, it is chasing a dream that many have stopped believing. Whenever it hits us, we will finally have a product in our hand that confirms that we can have immersive, affordable VR technology that has eluded us from many years.