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Oculus debuts new prototype HMD with head tracking, OLED display
Oculus debuts new prototype HMD with head tracking, OLED display
January 7, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

January 7, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
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    13 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing



Newsbrief: In Las Vegas at CES, Oculus has unveiled the latest prototype of its virtual reality head-mounted display hardware, codenamed "Crystal Cove."

The new iteration of the system has received some significant upgrades from the HD headset the company showed last year; most notably, it now comes paired with an external camera to allow for accurate head tracking (via LED markers on the exterior of the HMD itself, pictured below.) Thanks to this, the system now tracks three supplemental "degrees of freedom" -- forward/backward, left/right, and up/down.

Meanwhile, the 1080p screen in the unit has been upgraded from LCD to OLED, a display technology capable of much faster refresh times. Thanks to its low image persistence, the new display allows for images to be shown in a way that is more like natural vision in the real world. "With low persistence, you can continue to stare at an object or read text while youre moving your head," CEO Brendan Iribe tells Wired.

Gamasutra is meeting with Oculus today at CES and will have more on the company's latest developments soon.




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Comments


Ian Fisch
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Caption obvious asks: what happens if you're not facing the camera? Can it still track your head position? If so, how?

Merc Hoffner
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The internal accelerometer and gyroscope would take over and dead reckon the current position and orientation. They'd progressively accumulate inaccuracy, but theoretically absolute tracking would be re-established well before that becomes a factor in most usage cases. Throw in a magnetometer and the motion sensors could derive absolute orientation (not position) without external assistance. In any case the LED coverage on this prototype is pretty extensive. But also bear in mind that for your own safety, the system probably won't have you moving a whole lot out of a chair, lest you trip over a toddler and land on a space hopper. The camera should usually have a good view.

Mike Kasprzak
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Yeah, use with an omnidirectional treadmill such as the Omni might require a special configuration. A 2nd camera perhaps. I never understood how a single Kinect, as they used in demos, was supposed to be enough.

Harry Fields
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Does it have any IR markers on the head straps? If so, I could see Kinect like device able to do 360x360 head tracking rather easily.

Merc Hoffner
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With IR markers the resolution gets even better too - since the markers are effectively infinitesimal points in the image plane, and they're the only things visible in the image if additional illumination is turned off, then in this special case the intensity values of the pixel cluster surrounding each point of light can be used to accurately interpolate a sub-pixel position with a far higher resolution than the camera would otherwise allow. The Wii remote operates like this (interpolating 1024x768 from a 128x96 source), and so do optical mice.

Karl E
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Very good question. This could be a huge design mistake by Oculus if it means that the tracking is not really 360 degrees. This means that if you want to look around freely in a game (which you kind of expect), you still need secondary controls for the camera, the equivalent of the right analog stick.
It is pretty established by now that camera movement that is not 1-to-1 with headset movements should be avoided at all costs because of the reverse motion sickness. The strange thing is that Oculus are fully aware of this. You'd expect them to at least discuss the issue.

Andreas Ahlborn
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Im worried they keep iterating too soon, too quick.

Seems Carmack has taken his old motto "its done when its done" to his new company. And the actual device keeps developing further and further from the developer edition.

What point does it make to develop for a vr-set that will be outdated when it hits the market? 2014 seems more and more improbable as lauch year for a valid consumer device.

Mike Kasprzak
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Well, they have said that they plan to release a new developer device first. The Kickstarter was really about selling the idea to the world "It's time to bring back VR". There has been so much bad VR in the years before the Rift, it really should be no surprise they want to get it right.

Consumers can wait until 2015, so long as I get a better one this year. :D

Ben Lewis-Evans
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The changes they have made with this prototype should have good gains in terms of reducing simulation sickness. Particularly steps they have taken to deal with motion blur. Can't wait to try one.

Harry Fields
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I wish they could've figured out the head-tracking minus the camera. One device to plug in would help a lot in the marketability. Putting in two 1080p OLeds has to be jacking the cost up a good bit. I'm glad they did it, but does anyone know their target retail price yet? At 500 or so, I can see it selling and as people experience it (and without the headaches from latency), it could, just maybe, become the next big thing. At 1500$, it's DOA for the masses. Enthusiasts may well still snap it up, but it would be sad to not see it get a shot at mass distribution. It's always hard to sell things like this without a hands-on demo. Some stores could set up a POS display, but many won't bother.

Merc Hoffner
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POS, hah! acronyms... Anyway, AFAIK it's one single wide OLED - using a single off the shelf panel normally reserved for smartphones/phablets instead of two micro-scale bespoke displays is one of the major cost innovations that's made the Rift so affordable - I was looking up component prices - IHS had the 1080p AMOLED panel in the Galaxy S4 at $75 in their BOM, and it's approaching the right size - true Samsung gets a better price supplying to themselves than Oculus can get on the open market, but it also included a high performance capacitive floating-touch panel and Gorilla glass that Oculus don't need. I think the Dev units at $300 are indicative of Oculus's price intentions - besides which, if consumer models are charging substantially more, they may inadvertently drive many to become 'devs'. $300 sounds achievable - and makes me want to buy one.

I think you're dead on regarding tracking and a menagerie of components. It gets even worse when you consider controller problems - that's perhaps 3 devices now plugged in. And I think the least inviting thing about the latest demo was that a totally immersive experience was literally anchored down by a decidedly dislocated 360 controller. But it's also important to note this was only one prototype in a library of iterations and secrets.

Karl E
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Interesting, so far I just considered the Oculus to use a regular phone screen. Never thought of the fact that they need neither touchscreen or for the screen to be as durable as a phone. This means that it can be even cheaper in case of mass production.
Really hoping for wireless capability though, and they probablywon't be happy with a regular chromecast. How much does WirelessHD cost?

Tushar Arora
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The 360 Degree thing might be solvable if they put LEDs on all sides, maybe along the straps?? I dont see that a big overhead. Its probably low priority for them. Making the device compatible with mobile phones might be their next goal.


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