The Oculus Rift is getting upgraded to support more engines, more ways to interact within the virtual reality paradigm and more support for better compatibility. The latest prototype of the Rift is called Crescent Bay, and it's an upgrade over the last development kit.
Over on the official Oculus blog they roll out details on the latest build of the virtual reality headset, which was unveiled at the 2014 Oculus Connect convention, seeing 1,000 developers come to learn more about the technology that could be powering the future of the way we play and interact with games.
The upgrades for Crescent Bay includes 360 degree rotational head-tracking that's been expanded for better positional tracking, as well as improved integrated audio support and a slighter and more ergonomic design so it doesn't feel like you have a weight rested atop your head.
I'm also kind of digging the way the headphones are positioned on the device, as it actually looks kind of comfortable. Check it out in the image below.
As noted in the blog, the hardware is still very early on in the design phase and it's likely prone to all the regular hiccups that occur with developmental products. However, throughout this process Oculus has announced that they have formed relationships with two of the biggest engine distributors out there, including Unity and Unreal Engine.
The Unreal Engine 4 has dedicated design resources and optimization tools allowing for a high-end and immersive VR experience. In fact, Epic designed a series of demos called the Elemental VR, Strategy VR, Cough Knights and Showdown.
The company's ties to Unity Technologies also includes free add-on software features for all Unity licensees, which should prove to be interesting for game developers who have worked on or are working on first-person or racing game titles using the Unity 3D engine.
The Oculus Rift will be supported in both the free and pro versions of Unity. So those of you on a tight budget will still be able to make full utilization of the virtual reality kit.
In addition to the improved audio gear added to the Crescent Bay prototype, the team has also improved the integrated audio software support, so that sounds and cues can be easily distinguished by gamers. I imagine it can easily be immersion breaking if something happening behind you sounds like it's right in front of you, or vice versa. As noted in the blog...
“As part of our audio initiative, we’ve licensed RealSpace3D’s audio technology, a software stack developed over 10 years based on technology from the University of Maryland. RealSpace3D’s tech enables high-fidelity VR audio with a combination of HRTF spatialization and integrated reverberation algorithms.”
The Oculus Rift is scheduled to enter into a consumer beta phase starting next summer in 2015.
Oculus was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion. There still is no set price for the consumer unit but it's expected to range between $199 and $399.