We recently sat down with OculusVR founder Palmer Luckey and VP Product Nate Mitchell to discuss what’s coming up for the Oculus Rift, what the main challenges are in terms of the upcoming consumer version of the popular virtual reality headset and how they feel about others jumping onto the VR bandwagon. Here’s our report.
We won’t ask when the consumer version will launch – but what are the goal markers you’re aiming for?
We’re looking to increase the resolution, while at the same time improving the frame rate that you see when using the headset. We’re also trying to bring the weight of the headset down for increased comfort, but a big focus point right now is also the availability of suitable content.
Some content development we do in-house, but that’s mainly for R&D purposes – seeing what works and trying out new things. We’re also working together with a number of external developers and publishers to make sure that there is an impressive library of Oculus-ready software available when the time comes. Without a ‘killer app’ you don’t have a product people are willing to use – and I think we’ll see several of these ‘killer apps’ in the near future.
The Oculus takes care of the visual aspect of VR. What about other areas that add to a more immersive experience?
It’s true that the visual image is just one aspect of VR, but it’s a major and essential one. Sound is also important for immersion, and the real dream is to actually see yourself inside the game and interact with the game world. Seeing your own hands, pressing buttons to open doors – that’s the ultimate goal. However, that comes with its own challenges, such as the need for a system that can provide haptic or tactile feedback to you. Visualizing your hand in the game is one thing, but how do you then deal with picking up objects, or even pushing into things?
What about all these other VR solutions we’re seeing right now?
We think it’s great that there’s all this interest in the technology – it’s good for the ecosystem when companies like Sony express interest in VR as well. They haven’t announced a consumer product yet, but it’s great for public interest and the development of suitable content. What we don’t want, however, is for people to put “bad VR” on the market. Our goal is to bring VR to the consumer – but we want to do it well. Creating the best experience possible is what matters, even if it takes a little longer than people might like.
Our thanks to Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell – stay tuned for a report on our recent playtests with the Oculus Rift DK2!