CES: Rift Showing Evolutionary Tendencies
This year's CES was a pretty big event for PC gaming. For one, Valve finally revealed their first lineup of Steam Machines, and any PC-gamer knows that anything Valve do is meant to be worshipped. Even the less admirable stuff, apparently.
More interesting for me personally (and I would think for anyone who already owns a gaming PC from before), is the demonstration of the latest Oculus Rift prototype, to the journalists who came there. The prototype shown was quite a bit upgraded from the devkit Kickstarter backers got last year, the one I used to write a two-part article about. Not only is the design sleeker and the 720p (technically 1280*800) resolution upped to above 1080p as promised, but they've even added full three-degree positional tracking with an external camera reading the signals coming from small LED lights attached to the Rift set. This means that you'll now be able to lean left and right to peek around corners in shooters, back and forth to observe objects in the world closer, and even up and down.
This new feature was demonstrated through two demos, one of which is an updated version of Epic Games' demo based on the Unreal 4 engine. Here, you find yourself in a cave with a flaming demon observing you as you play a tower defense style game. Using the newly added tracking technology, it was possible lean closer to the action going on in the tower defense demo.
Another demo was also one we've seen before, showing off Eve Valkyrie. Though this dog fighting demo was shown at last year's E3, the new version apparently came with a number of new features and improvements.
Journalists from Wired were present at the show, and according to them, there were more new features than just the 1080p screen and the positional tracking. The new Rift set had improved on a lot of the concerns early testers had raised about motion blur and other motion-sickness inducing factors. The image latency has been significantly decreased down to 30 milliseconds, and the new prototype apparently also utilized a new technology known as low persistence, which mitigates the motion blur when players move their heads quickly.
Oculus' CEO Brendan Iribe is confident that the Rift will be ready for mass consumption sometime later this year, though they are still testing out a lot of features and improvements to make the Rift the ultimate gaming toy since the invention of the mouse.
"This is just a feature prototype. It’s not at all representative of the final consumer look and feel. Once we feel like something is good enough and we’re confident we’ll be able to ship it with the consumer product, we feel good about announcing it. We still may change how it’s done, but we feel great about the positional tracking system. It’s been a year in the works, we’ve tried multiple different approaches, and this delivered the experience we were looking for."
Up above, I've embedded a video for you to get a better idea of the new design, the demos shown and the positional tracking. The Rift sure has come a long way since I first got my hands on the devkit, and I am personally dying to see this incredible piece of tech reach the open markets. Gaming will never be quite the same ever again.