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    Feb 2013

    Oculus Rift Discussion

    Hi Everyone

    I would like to share my experience with the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset. If you haven't tried it yet it's an all new dimension in gaming and it's like 3D on steroids. It has a full 360 degree view, up, down, both sides and behind you is all filled with scenery and it's as if you are in the scene.

    Setting up the Oculus Rift isn't difficult, it has step by step instructions on screen which are easy to follow and lets you know everything is connected, I had it setup and watching some of the included content in about 30 minutes. Some of the included content had me standing on top of a high rise building looking down, I'm scared of heights and it looked so real I was about to grab something to hold on to. Another part was a tyrannosaurus rex walking towards me down a hallway, he stopped in front of me so I could get a good look then stepped over me, I put my arms up because I thought I was about to get crushed, yes it looks that real.

    It comes with a few free games, apps, entertainment and a movie scene Senza Peso where you ride in a canoe, at one point there were comets flying over that left trails of billowing smoke all around me, I was literally sniffing the air to smell the smoke.

    In the box is the oculus rift headset, a stand alone receiver for tracking head movement, a wireless xbox controller, a wireless usb receiver, a wireless remote control, two oculus stickers, an instruction book, a lens cleaning cloth and all the necessary usb cables. The headset earphones are high quality and sounds just as good as a movie theater if not better.

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    Since a friend loaned me his oculus rift while he is on vacation I only have a limited amount of time with it but what I've found is you need to have games that support virtual reality, so unfortunately my experience is limited to the content that comes with the oculus rift but what does come with it is simply amazing, I can imagine playing an action game in virtual reality would be nothing more than mind blowing.

    You can play all your steam games with the oculus rift, just install Steam VR and you're playing them on a movie theater screen. You can adjust the theater screen small, medium, large and to flat or curved which I think is cool, while playing your game just look down at the screen sizes and it changes automatically, no buttons to push.

    Steam games play on your monitor and the oculus rift which is more taxing, minimum requirements is a gtx 970 but a 980 Ti or a 1070 will do much better. You can purchase vporX to play games in stereo 3d on the big theater screen, here is a list of games that are supported.

    The headset has plenty of adjustments to customize for a perfect fit, it's not heavy and is comfortable to wear. For what I've got to see that supports VR it's truly incredible, I was playing one of the free VR games Dragon Front with the remote control, you navigate by moving your head instead of a mouse then select with the remote. It's a whole new way of playing a game and it feels much more immersive, it was as if I was sitting or standing on top of a castle controlling the soldiers below with a full 360 degree view.

    I could go on and on about how awesome VR is but me talking about it really doesn't do it justice, you need to experience it first hand and see it for yourself to see how immersive it truly is. Most gamers like me will be wowed and you may end up having to pick your jaw up off the floor like I did.

    There are quite a few free VR players you can download to watch videos and movies in VR, here are a few. Do note the videos and movies must support VR.

    Oculus will soon bring their own VR to the web with React VR and Carmel.

    How the Oculus Rift works

    The Oculus Rift has a pair of screens that displays two images side by side, one for each eye. A lense is placed on top of each panel focusing and reshaping the picture for each eye creating a stereoscopic 3D image. The headset has embedded sensors that monitor the wearer's head movement and adjusts the image accordingly, the result is the sensation you are looking around in a 3d world.

    The specs include a 2160 x 1200 OLED display which delivers 1080p per eye, a 110 degree field of view with a 90Hz refresh rate. It has a built in accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and 360 degree positional tracking that follows six axes of movement with a latency of about 30 milliseconds which didn't affect my gameplay at all and was quite responsive.

    The more I play with it the more things I'm finding you can do with it, the oculus rift can also be used as a pc monitor. I installed Bigscreen Beta from Steam which is free, there are 21 environments to choose from all with either a big theater screen and pc monitor with the pc monitor being customizable. You can do everything with the oculus rift as you can a pc monitor, the only thing is you can't see the keyboard but if you know your way around a keyboard it isn't a problem.

    Screen customization for Bigscreen Beta
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    Graphics customization
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    21 Environments
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    Here is one of the VR demos Senza Peso I mentioned, it shows in two images and is nothing like wearing the headset but you can see it has a full 360 degree view as I look around.

    While VR is still fairly new I can't help but feel excited about the future of VR, it has taken entertainment to a whole new level. Anyone who has experienced VR knows that being fully immersed in a virtual world is much different than looking at a 2D image. This concept of full immersion transforms the way you view movies, video games and other attractions such as theme parks which are now using VR headsets to enhance ride experiences.

    VR is not just for gaming and entertainment, it also has the capability to change the way children are educated and can increase human empathy, imagine putting on a VR headset and experiencing life in a small village in a third world country. It gives you the ability to walk in another person's shoes from a different culture and how they live on a daily basis.

    The only con I have is it looks a little grainy like looking through the screen of a screen door but once you overlook this it's great.

    If you have a VR gaming unit I'd like to hear your thoughts, opinions, what games you play and how you use your VR headset.

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