What is the Oculus Rift?

How Oculus Rift works

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset developed and manufactured by Oculus VR, and is scheduled for release on 28 March 2016, making it the first to kickstart consumer-targeted virtual reality headsets.

Next-generation virtual reality – Rift is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re stepping into your favorite game, watching an immersive VR movie, jumping to a destination on the other side of the world, or just spending time with friends in VR, you’ll feel like you’re really there.

The games

Next-generation virtual reality

Rift uses state of the art displays and optics designed specifically for VR. Its high refresh rate and low-persistence display work together with its custom optics system to provide incredible visual fidelity and an immersive, wide field of view.

The cable

How Oculus Rift works

Rift’s advanced display technology combined with its precise, low-latency constellation tracking system enables the sensation of presence – the feeling as though you’re actually there. The magic of presence changes everything. You’ve never experienced immersion like this.

The positional tracker

How Oculus Rift works

From the moment you pick up Rift, you’ll feel and see the attention to detail that went into its design and construction. Customizable, comfortable, adaptable, and beautiful, Rift is technology and design as remarkable as the experiences it enables.

The headset

How Oculus Rift works

All this feeds into the headset, which connects to your head via vertical and horizontal straps, with the uppermost strap including the HDMI and USB cable. Further customisation is achieved with two pairs of lenses, which magnify the screen so it fills your field of view without causing any blurring or motion sickness (at least in theory).

The screen

How Oculus Rift works

In Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 the screen was essentially an entire Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet with the smartphone bits removed, but with the completely useless touchscreen and logo intact. Its 1920 x 1080 HD resolution delivered a 960 x 1080 display to each eye; its refresh rate of 60 Hz kept things smooth, and a 100-degree horizontal field of view meant there wasn’t too much black space around the edge of the display.

The audio

How Oculus Rift works

As mentioned in the intro, Oculus gave the headset a massive boost in January 2015 at CES when it announced that an upcoming Oculus Audio SDK would allow the use of Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) tech, combined with the Rift’s head tracking to create a sense of true 3D audio spatialisation. This will allow Rift developers to immerse users “sonically in a virtual world, surrounded by realistic sounds in all directions.”

Oculus Touch

How Oculus Rift works

New at the pre-E3 Oculus event were two wireless controllers called Oculus Touch. Like a gamepad split in half, these controllers give you a more immersive VR experience: you can use them to reach out into virtual space, make hand gestures and more besides.

Oculus Home

How Oculus Rift works

When you switch on your swanky new VR headset, you see a brand new interface called Oculus Home. It lets you view available games and other content, check up on which of your friends (or enemies) are currently online, and control device settings.

Oculus developers say they’ve built Home to let you do everything you need to do within the same interface, from buying new games to chatting with contacts. A battery level icon and a virtual clock are included for that very reason.

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