The Consumer Rift Is Here!
Fueled by its sale to Facebook for $2 billion two years ago, Oculus finally delivered on the promise of its crowdfunded development efforts originally launched in summer 2012 by flip-flop fitted Long Beach college dropout Palmer Luckey. The first Rift was hand-delivered by Luckey to one Ross Martin of Anchorage, Alaska with the event livestreamed via Facebook (5-minute video) on Easter weekend. Kickstarter backers began receiving their Rifts Monday (free of charge), followed by pre-orders on a rolling basis with shipments beginning today.
While the Oculus-powered entry level Gear VR headset is likely to be seen by more than 7 million people this year riding Six Flags roller coasters, Rift received varied reviews. They showed a mixture of awe and caution about it not including hand controllers in the box, and its high cost. Will Mason at UploadVR tested tracking of the CV1 with a camera set up in the top corner of a room, bumping into a chair during this 3-minute video, stating “that’s why you need Chaperone” (the holodeck-like boundary system included in the competing HTC Vive for walk-around VR experiences).
Microsoft’s $3,000 Hololens augmented reality developer kits are set to ship today, and the research arm of the company showed a new technology called “holoportation” in a 5-minute video, with real-time 3D volumetric capture of scenes that could be reproduced elsewhere. In other words, it’s pretty close to the holographic communications technology depicted in Star Wars.
HTC Vive is expected to ship April 5 with the hand controllers bundled that were missing from the launch of the Rift.
Rift Review Round-Up
Wired’s review by Peter Rubin included the following under the “Tired” header:
“Many of the coolest-looking games aren't here yet. You'll just have to wait. Same with the controllers. Also, since it requires a pricey VR-ready PC, you're likely laying out more than the $600 just for the headset. All of these things are typical of early-adopter hardware, and none of them really matter if you consider this an investment for the future.”
Geoffrey A. Fowler at the WSJ called Oculus Rift “the 2016 product you hope your neighbor buys. You’ll definitely want to try it, but there’s little reason to own one unless you’re a serious gamer.”
Adi Robertson at The Verge compared it to the Vive, writing that “I love the feeling of getting real exercise in a virtual sword-fighting game, or of walking around a real room to see the artwork I’ve created. Sitting down with the Rift, meanwhile, feels as close to being a brain in a jar as humanly possible.”
Ben Kuchera at Polygon wrote “the obvious quality of the headset, matched with surprisingly strong ergonomics and usage of the remote all work together to create something that feels satisfying and, more importantly, transformative.”
Brian X. Chen at the New York Times wrote “the first wave of apps and games available for it narrows the device’s likely users to hard-core gamers. It is also rougher to set up and get accustomed to than products like smartphones and tablets.”
Devindra Hardawar at Engadget wrote “it might be wiser to wait until the price drops for high-end VR”, and Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo said “without caveats...I am enjoying the Rift right in the moment.”
Lucas Matney at Techcrunch wrote “I might recommend waiting it out for the launch of Touch later this year...if you want the best gameplay experience possible.”
Studio Transcendent Releases Rapid Fire on Hulu
Hulu launched an app on the Gear VR that gives users the ability to watch its entire content library on a big screen and also to view 360 video content.
VR Digest publisher Studio Transcendent is a launch content partner, providing a video conversion of our Rapid Fire: a brief history of flight experience, in which you witness the Wright Flyer’s first leap, dodge bullets fired by a WWI fighter plane, get buzzed by the F-22 raptor, and are nearly engulfed by the world’s largest plane.