PAX East 2014: Oculus Rift Hands On

The line for Oculus Rift was insane; a line formed to get INTO the line, which seemed to be capped at all times of the day while at PAX. For some gamers, the Oculus Rift was their sole purpose for being there, and they were determined to get in line to check it out first hand. As I looked all around me, I knew that people were excited for this technology, despite the controversial news of Facebook acquiring The Oculus Rift. I had the opportunity to check out the 1st Oculus Rift dev kit available to consumers during a New Years party. There, a group of people tried out the various demos that showed off different kinds of experiences (silly, fun, scary, thrills, etc) that took advantage of head motion tracking.

One game I played had me jumping from the earth’s atmosphere into a landing zone while using a controller to guide the direction and speed in which I plummeted towards earth. You could look around to get a better sense of where other objects were, and where they were headed. It was much more immersive than I initially thought. It was clear that there were further improvements that needed to be made, the resolution wasn’t at it’s highest (especially considering how close to your eyes the images are displayed), and some people spoke about the sense of weightlessness that made them feel a bit queezy.

The Oculus Rift team must have been paying close attention to what users were saying they’d like to see improved, because they’ve done just that. The peripheral is surprisingly lightweight, without feeling like a cheap product. It’s also, surprisingly comfortable, and not straining on the eyes at all. In addition to comfort and ease of use, it’s rendering images at 1080p, with rumors of an iteration that pushes 4k. While the previous version was capable of tracking your head motion with very accurate gyroscopes, this newest iteration has a camera that tracks not only your head motion, but also head tracking. It can detect if you’re standing, or leaning from one side to the other.

I won’t beat a dead horse (especially considering both the video above, and an interview I conducted with Drift0r mentioned the game on display), but it’s very easy to see the mass appeal of this device. If the price is right, I can certainly see this being a common household item in many gamers’ homes. Will this be the next coming of the television, and become the must have item in everyone’s homes? Probably not, but there’s definitely an untapped market for it. I hope to hear more details about how consumers can get this in their homes, and it’s compatibility with gaming consoles.

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