'Boys with their Toys': The Oculus Rift

'Boys with their Toys': The Oculus Rift

You can say that some boys never grow up if you look at their toys. The boys just get older and the only thing that changes is that the toys get more expensive. Within our tech driven bubble some grown men are excessively mad about all kinds of (new) gadgets. The young kid in us comes back to live. On top of that we are constantly teased by the media about things that new technologies potentially have to offer us. The ‘I-want-to-have-it feeling’ has been growing inside of us, even before the product in on the market. Talking about needing patience…. Sounds familiar, right? In this episode of ‘Boys with their toys’ we dive into the wondrous world of virtual (and augmented) reality with the Oculus Rift. And this appears to be a fascination of our back end developer Paul since young age and he could get his hands on this toy to take us on a virtual tour from behind his computer.

Paul in virtual reality

Paul, what fascinates you about a virtual (and augmented) reality? The other worlds; the "go-out-of-home" without, actually, leaving your apartment; the new experiences to embrace; the vast coldness of Space.

My first hands-on was back in 2002(-ish) with VFX1 Head-Mount Display(HMD). Back then it had really poor resolution, as, imo, games were lacking the "realism" level of computer generated graphics; as well as a PC with a decent Voodoo card(s! - the more the merrier! Anyone remembers 5 cards baking-ovens?) setup was beyond the price-reach limit. Later on, 2013, I was at Appsterdam meetup, and really had the 'wow-effect' when I first saw the roller-coaster demo. One could experience "the drop" while comfortably sitting on their chair, wearing Oculus' DK1. Quality of visuals drastically improved, even ultrabooks can now output low-latency crispy 3D images.

VR lost ground and determination over time, but it feels more and more like it’s crawling its way back into our life. Virtual reality is about creating a simulated adventure. Wearing VR HMD, such as the Oculus Rift, users can experience a environment created by other artists. It could be famous real-world places, not known to many outbacks; it can also be a completely bizarre psycho-active environments that decline everything you've been dealing with in a real world.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, blends computer generated parts with real life - users are able to interact with virtual contents on top of the real world. You basically keep in touch with the real world and you are able(or not) to distinguish between what’s real and what is not. A great example of AR, that should get more attention and backing, is the Microsoft HoloLens. This piece of technology, when a finished product, will move your business applications from the screens of smartphones to a wearable dimension with all the added benefits and blend-ins.

How did you get your hands on the Oculus Rift? It’s my neighbor’s and he let me borrow it. Since I’m not anymore a game hacker I wasn't really interested in buying the first Development Kit myself. I’m waiting for the consumer version, which is planned to come out in the first half of next year. The consumer version of Oculus Rift has has been shown already, and now it started to look more like the desired piece of hardware with low-persistence, high-definition display and precise low-latency positional head tracking.

Since we are talking about Consumer versions of the Oculus Rift (not yet released), what improvements would you like to see? Now it's time to grab something in your hands and start controlling the virtual environment. Touch controllers, Move-sticks, gloves, force-feedback vests - that make the experience complete. As well as advancements in sound-related technologies. Hearing is one of the senses we have. Surround sound is something we are already count as common. VR overpasses that with Stereo Headphones and Head tracking, adjusting sound picture based on your head movements. But it is still "stereo", left-and-right, 1D. Even when your head moves - you still have no sense of second, vertical, dimension. This is where Dolby Atmos/DTS:X should come in place.

What could be the relevance for aFrogleap? We should look closer to Microsoft's new Windows10 platform. MS promises to deliver one ecosystem for desktop-, mobile- and augmented-applications. This adds a huge benefit to business applications as a new way to create Mobile/Augmented Experiences. We've worked with Layar long time ago, maybe it is time to look at a newer platform?!

Will you buy the Oculus Rift when it comes out next year? I am not yet sure about the Oculus' device - maybe later. I’m more excited about Sony's project Morpheus for PS4, with my decision to switch from PC-based gaming to Console-based one, which gives home-gaming a whole different dimension and support. Currently I'm looking for a comfortable Gaming/Racing seat to aid my virtual adventures, when the time comes Q1 next year.

Boys with toys - oculus rift

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