There is now a release window for the Oculus Rift, and it is the first quarter of 2016. That puts the release schedule in line with, but probably sooner than, Sony’s Morpheus headset. The schedule also puts some pressure on Valve and HTC to deliver the Vive headset as planned this year.
“When I get the Rift is everything going to come with it? We want to nail that,” said Oculus platform head Nate Mitchell at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. “There really does need to be standardized input and standardized tech specs.”
According to Oculus, Facebook will accept pre-orders this year, which in all likelihood means readers will be hoping for a piece of paper under their Christmas tree. Or will everyone be trying to get their hands on a Vive headset come the holidays? Without pricing alongside the announcement of these first consumer VR products, it’s hard to have a clear picture of how the competition will stack up.
Also, a mobile Gear VR sans the “Innovator Edition” moniker is due this year alongside the Note 5; and Google, Apple or Microsoft might have unannounced gadgets in store for the holiday season.
More will likely be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles from June 16 to 18.
Dueling VR Jams
While some developers were crunching to finish their Gear VR projects over the weekend for the Oculus Mobile Jam, others attended the Vive VR Jam in Austin, Texas building experiences for the room-scale Valve headset.
Winners of the Mobile Jam will be announced in June, but hundreds of entries are now available for perusal. We haven’t had a chance to look through them all, but we’ve already found some great entries.
Tactera from E McNeill, the winner of the first Oculus Jam, is highly polished and worth your time, as is Blair Renaud’s Technolust: Thought Crimes.
Galaxy Grapple provides a unique physics based gameplay experience that’s surprisingly comfortable. Another unusual concept powers SMS Racing, wherein you must race around a track while responding to stupid texts from your friends, lest they get bored with you.
On the non-interactive side, Androids Dream takes you on a stunning ride in the flying car from Blade Runner, while Colosse shows off an artful new form of anime.
A team of researchers from USC and Oculus produced some interesting facial capture research for the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference coming up in August. A research paper (PDF) and video shows the system using strain gauges built into the foam liner of a head-mounted display to capture upper facial movements, and an Intel camera mounted on an arm directly in front of the face to detect lower facial movements.