In May, one of the leaders in the current virtual reality movement announced the consumer hardware was almost done, and they weren’t kidding, as it has given us a taste ahead of what’s coming next year.
And next year, that hardware will be based off of some of the recent development hardware, but with a few changes brought to the eyes and hands of consumers.
Virtual reality, or VR for short, is about immersion with digital equipment, and that starts at the head, which is primarily where the Oculus Rift will play, providing two AMOLED screens — one for each eye — to help make you believe that these are your own eyes, but there’s more than just providing a screen for each eye, as when you move, they have to move.
For that, there’s a small tracking system implemented allowing the headset to pick up on when you’ve turned your head or looked up, relaying that not just to the screens, but to the computer the headset will be plugged into, as that’s how the package works.
You turn your head, the computer gets told you’re turning your head, and your field of vision changes to match that, with all of this happening quickly helping to make that immersion more real.
One new inclusion to the Rift formula is audio, and Oculus is apparently going to include a pair of headphones built into the headset to help bring 3D sound to your ears, though the good news is that these are replaceable if you choose to bring a pair of headphones you like more.
We’re told the design has also been refined over time, with the result being something that improves “balance and stability”, according to the Oculus blog, with a strap that will go over the head.
Yes, you might have to mess up your hair to play, but don’t worry, because in that game, no one will notice.
Outside of the head, Oculus is talking up the hands, because what’s the point of being immersed if you can’t play the content.
For that, every Oculus Rift will arrive with an Xbox One controller that will work with PCs, because it’s highly likely you’ll still need a gaming PC if you want to play.
Oculus hasn’t talked much about this, yet, and we’re sure we’ll hear more later on, possibly with support for consoles in the near future, but we’re willing to bet this is a computer-based affair at this time, with support for PC games first.
An Xbox controller won’t be the only way to play either, with Oculus showing off its optional “Touch” controller, a two part controller system that delivers a controller for each hand. In each hand, you’ll find circular controllers to grip with a thumbtack, buttons, and a trigger, as well as a tracking system similar to what the Oculus Rift uses to track your head position and movement.
Put these things together and the hardware will allow you to pick things up in-game, to carry objects, and even to use weaponry inside a video game environment.
We’re keen to see how this works, and while this method of interaction won’t be provided with the Rift headset, it likely will grab attention from gamers keen for a stronger sense of immersion, who genuinely wish to be inside the game and not just a spectator with their head inside it.
Unfortunately, pricing isn’t available for either of these gadgets at the moment, but you’ll likely hear more about these later this year, as Oculus is still eyeing an early 2016 release date.