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Displays Facebook Games Technology

How Virtual Reality Became Reality 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-two-smartphones-and-a-gas-mask-love-each-other-very-much dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an in-depth report on the development of the Oculus Rift, telling the story of the tech and its creators from conception to present. Quoting: 'That's because Oculus has found a way to make a headset that does more than just hang a big screen in front of your face. By combining stereoscopic 3-D, 360-degree visuals, and a wide field of view—along with a supersize dose of engineering and software magic—it hacks your visual cortex. As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world. "This is the first time that we've succeeded in stimulating parts of the human visual system directly," says Abrash, the Valve engineer. "I don't get vertigo when I watch a video of the Grand Canyon on TV, but I do when I stand on a ledge in VR." ... The hardware problems have been solved, the production lines are almost open, and the Rift will be here soon. After that it's anybody's guess. "I've written 2 million lines of code over the past 20 years, and now I'm starting from a blank page," Carmack says. "But the sense that I'm helping build the future right now is palpable."'"
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How Virtual Reality Became Reality

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  • Competition is coming.

    *cough* Valve *cough*

    • by jeti (105266)

      Valve has no plans to produce their own hardware. And Michael Abrash, who was at the core of Valves VR research, is now working for Oculus.

    • by sycodon (149926)

      Good. Because I would have a very hard time buying this knowing it's now owned by that cunt ZuckerAsshole.

  • Except It Isn't (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573)

    Here's how it happened:

    2 decades passed since the last time they tried this shit and failed. Now they're trying this shit again, and they'll fail again. People don't want to wear headgear for their media consumption. "VR" (stereoscopic 3D on a head-mounted display) will be a massive flop in the mass consumer market, as always.

    VR will continue to be marginally useful for specific uses such as 3D imaging for medical, military, or industrial applications, as it always has been. It will continue to get marg

    • I wonder why you make the huge mistake of assuming that this is a mass-market product, but understand why you leap to erroneous conclusions because of your flawed premise. This is for a particular niche, the enthusiast gamer. There are plenty of us out there.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I wonder why you make the huge mistake of assuming that this is a mass-market product

        I wonder why you'd assume that if Facebook was interested in it it wouldn't be a mass-market product.

        Facebook didn't spend $2 billion dollars on something they think hardly anybody will use.

        Ownership by Facebook immediately makes it technology I don't want. Not now, not ever.

        There are plenty of us out there.

        • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
          Not now, not ever.

          Well, I guess this discussion is over then. /s You're not wrong to be wary of FB, but absolutes don't advance anything here.
        • >Ownership by Facebook immediately makes it technology I don't want. Not now, not ever.

          Yeah, that makes me uncomfortable too. I was much more enthusiastic about this product before the purchase. There are competing devices, and one of those might wind up capturing most of this market, just because so many of us oppose having Facebook market our eyeballs.
        • by JohnFen (1641097)

          Ownership by Facebook immediately makes it technology I don't want. Not now, not ever.

          Yes, me too. I do my best to avoid giving Facebook a dime of my money, and unfortunately this must include OR being something I can't purchase. That FB bought them turned them from being a source of palpable excitement to a source of sadness and longing for what could have been.

        • by SB2020 (1814172)

          Ownership by Facebook immediately makes it technology I don't want. Not now, not ever.

          What if Facebook bring out a jetpack?

          • by q4Fry (1322209)
            "You have 30 friends nearby that you could scare and impress with a fly-by!"
            "Now we can track you in three dimensions!"
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        I wonder why you make the huge mistake of assuming that this is a mass-market product, but understand why you leap to erroneous conclusions because of your flawed premise. This is for a particular niche, the enthusiast gamer. There are plenty of us out there.

        You're the one making the huge mistake of assuming Facebook is going to shove this thing into a niche that history has shown doesn't exist in any profitable form. Look at all those enthusiast gamers playing games in 3D, wearing headgear. The most successful 3D gaming platform is the 3DS, and Nintendo has dropped nearly all focus on the 3D aspect of it because people weren't bothering to play in 3D. They released a 2DS because, even without glasses, people don't fucking care about 3D. Facebook is going t

        • Facebook might try that, but if they do, they're obviously very misguided.

          VR has worked in the past, and they've made a ton of improvements, so I don't see this failing in the gamer market. I had an eMagin HMD around a decade ago, that was already awesome despite a narrow FOV on the earlier tech. The only issue was that it depended on Nvidia for support, which was dropped at the very next driver update. Lag wasn't a problem for me.

          Of course I don't hesitate to adopt new technologies, so use things l
        • You don't seem to understand something. 3D sucks because after you play in 3D for a while, the effect wears off and your brain can barely tell the difference between it and a simple 2D image. Then you wonder why you're wearing the dumb glasses.

          VR is a completely different experience. It doesn't wear off in the same way, though the brain does get somewhat accustomed to aspects of it. The problem is you can't just move back to a 2D screen and get a similar experience. Games developed specifically for VR are v

        • by LRAD (1822746)

          This thing where the PS4 isn't powerful enough is flawed logic.

          The PS4 won't be able to push it's current games into that resolution, but if you can simply focus on performance (60-120 fps) and gameplay. There are a number of 3D games that, while dated, still have a solid art style going for them with unique enough gameplay experiences that people still play or will play at a discount price. Point is, lower the demand of polys and textures and you have plenty of horsepower for keeping the latency down and f

    • by javelinco (652113)
      2 decades passed since the last time they tried this shit and failed. Now they're trying this shit again, and they'll fail again. People don't want to use touch screen tablets to do their "computing."

      2 decades passed since the last time they tried this shit and failed. Now they're trying this shit again, and they'll fail again. People want mobile phones that make calls, not play dumb games.

      Etc., etc., etc.

      You might be right on this one, but you aren't right because of the argument you are using. Th
    • by Gordo_1 (256312) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @02:38PM (#47049639)

      Have you worn an Oculus? No, you haven't. Which is why you think it is an 'abortion'. I have spent the better part of a year with an early development kit and I can tell you it's already a highly entertaining experience that will only get better over time.

      > People don't want to wear headgear for their media consumption.

      People don't want to watch a wall-mounted rectangle for their media consumption. Both are asinine statements. Anyway, VR isn't so much about consuming media. It's about being part of an interactive experience that can't be replicated any other way.

      > 2 decades passed since the last time they tried this shit and failed.

      Yes, it was super expensive back then, there was next to no content and the overall experience was absolutely horrible by anyone's standards.

      So what's different this time? Technology has improved immensely. Field of view is much larger, latency is way down, resolution is way up, and weight is a small fraction of the early headsets. Oh, also most households already have the computers necessary to drive a decent VR experience. And content? It's coming. There are thousands of 3d games that can benefit from VR with only a few months of additional development effort and hundreds of new titles already being built. Furthermore, VR headsets will be in the same price range as a typical game console or high end video card. It is now right in the cross-hairs of the mainstream digital consumer.

    • Re:Except It Isn't (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @02:55PM (#47049841)

      Hrm... I take it you haven't tried the product yet or watched the reaction of people who have used it.

      I'm a child of the 90's so I used to play those VR games for a dollar for 5 minutes in the arcades and have to agree those were pretty shitty.

      However, the Oculus Rift is something else to behold.

      I own a dev kit and I actually get "Oh shit" moments in the Rift playing the roller coaster demos. Regular games don't do that for me. I get vertigo playing Minecraft in the Rift when I am high up building something. Regular Minecraft doesn't do that.

      When I play Euro Truck Simulator 2 in the Rift I find myself looking left and right and checking my mirrors just like I drive a car in real life. I even look out the window to look at the scenery. Without the Rift I don't do that.

      And this is a low rez version without positional tracking.

      Its not a gimmick and its not going away. 2 billion dollars says its not going away. Even if you hate Facebook you can invest in one of the other kickstarters like AntVR and use their product.

      I've been participating in the RiftMax shows and it reminds me of the scene in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex where they are in a virtual chat room on the net.

      This is going to be big.

      • I've tried Occulus and agree with the parent (I'm also 40 and have been around this block before). VR will never be a mainstream, mass market application. Now that the tech is mostly working (OR is awesome - it works like we all wanted it to the first time Jaron Lanier was in the news), it needs applications. Sure, core gaming will change as will some industrial applications, but otherwise there aren't a lot of good reasons to put an app in an head mounted display. HMDs are not exactly a great fashion acces

      • When I was playing WoW, one of my guildmembers inherited a sum of money, and decided to use (some of) it to buy himself a cool gaming rig. He was one of these people who always had a machine barely able to play the game on low settings etc.

        He got a 3D screen and glasses setup with dual Nvidia cards. His testimonials really make me jealous. He was explaining how instead of one character occluding another, you could actually tell that they were 'behind'.

        The game was completely different in 3D and he couldn't

    • Jesus, when did Slashdot become populated by Luddites? 20 years ago, VR was populated by overly heavy, underpowered, expensive systems. the 2000su system (the first vr system I ever had a chance to experience, coincidentally) was a second gen system, and yet still cost somewhere around £10,000 [http://www.retro-vr.co.uk/test/vr2000su.html]. The head sets themselves were about a half pound heavier than the oculus rift (50% increase), had a resolution of 756x244 pixels, and a view range of under 60 d
    • by loopdloop (207642)

      No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

    • by strack (1051390)
      Oh how Id love to be there when you try a Oculus rift on for the first time. I dont think I have ever seen someone gain 12 pounds in 5 seconds from the the amount of their own words that they eat.
  • by CdXiminez (807199) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @12:55PM (#47048393)

    Since the Oculus Ruft now has a certain backer, I'm looking at alternatives:
    http://www.roadtovr.com/castar... [roadtovr.com]

  • ...it, but just because a decent low cost HMD is finally coming out doesn't mean "Virtual Reality" has been made 'real.'

    There's so much more to VR than just the visuals. Haptic feedback is critical, audio is critical, olfactory stimulation is critical, and yes - visual is critical.

    I am very much looking forward to the HD Rift (provided there's no bulls*** FB related lock-in or stupid licensing), but mostly because it'll make games so much more enjoyable (especially flight simulation.)

    • Facebook isn't going to do anything that will inhibit this device, not while it still hasn't established a market for itself. They aren't stupid. In the very worst case, they require any avatar/profile to be associated with a FB account, which is a minor privacy annoyance, nothing more.
      • by Assmasher (456699)

        No offense, but I don't give FB the credit that you do.

        They aren't stupid, but they are incredibly greedy, a publicly traded company, and known for corrupting the things they buy. My real concern is that they fail utterly (like with their phone) and then inhibit the burgeoning HMD market with patent and IP threats.

        <Ripley>I HOPE you're right - I really do</Ripley>, but historical precedent suggests otherwise.

        • Let's put it another way: Facebook is platform agnostic, much more so than their competitors. They don't care iOS vs Android, PC vs Mac vs Linux vs consoles, XBox vs PS4 vs Nintendo. If you have a Rift application you want to build, they will shrug at your platform choice and only provide comments about the VR contents itself. Maybe because they are a Social company, they will prefer your VR thingie be multi-user, but I don't see them saying no to anything of decent quality. Even adult content should b
          • by Assmasher (456699)

            Even adult content should be ok if it has adequate age restrictions implemented.

            You're missing the point entirely.

            It's a piece of hardware and an SDK, and it should be able to be used for whatever the hell people want to use it for. I don't want Facebook doing anything other than collecting my money to buy the hardware.

            Your scenario is exactly what everyone who wanted to write code to integrate the HMD prays does NOT happen.

            • Of course they will give out the SDK, and of course you can do whatever you want with it. It's like Apple, though... if you want to distribute your VR IP through the Rift store, probably your IP will have to comply with ToS. Even Google Play Store has that, if perhaps a more forgiving one. And, as far as adult content goes, you think an independent OR company would be any different in their rules? They would still be based in the USA, and still have the same legal and PR concerns. Having seen some of
              • by Assmasher (456699)

                ...the Rift store...

                Where are you getting this?

                You, yourself, were trying to argue that FB are platform agnostic, so how can you have a "Rift store" and be platform agnostic? It wouldn't make any sense.

                ... independent OR company would be any different in their rules?

                Are you confused about who OR was? They made hardware? That's it. Like all hardware, it had drivers or an SDK to make use of it, that's it.

                No "OR Store"...

                Again, you're missing entirely what everybody who was planning on making use of OR was afraid of when FB bought them. That they'd do exactly what you think they're supp

    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      olfactory stimulation is critical

      Yeah, I hear you... smelling the pussy would increase the realism tenfold. Too bad I'm allergic to cat hair.

  • Can someone, in a few sentences, describe how Oculus rift is "revolutionary" aside from having self-contained accelerometers/gyros and probably including a higher definition display than previous models? I remember using a VR helmet 20 years ago that allowed free view, and sure the 3d was shitty compared to today, the textures and colors were basic, but it was the same thing as this claims to be "the first" of. Where is the magic?

    • The magic is that it sold for two billion bucks. That's a lot of money riding on something cool to get out of it. It could be the next cool thing or the next MySpace. Either way that's a helluva lot of reasons for Facebook to do something with it.
      First and foremost I'm hoping they make Farmville VR so I don't have to drive 10 minutes to see what farming is like.
    • Can someone, in a few sentences, describe how Oculus rift is "revolutionary" aside from having self-contained accelerometers/gyros and probably including a higher definition display than previous models? I remember using a VR helmet 20 years ago that allowed free view, and sure the 3d was shitty compared to today, the textures and colors were basic, but it was the same thing as this claims to be "the first" of. Where is the magic?

      The magic is in the soon-to-be-dashed hopes and dreams of the fools who funded that shit on Kickstarter.

    • by jasno (124830)

      The magic is marketing and timing.

      Oculus used the technological leaps which are going to enable many companies to produce affordable, low-latency VR displays. Then they allowed people, including marketing and media folks, to play with their alpha-quality hardware, generating tremendous excitement.

      Oculus is just another hardware company. Given that they have so much expertise under one roof, they may solve some of the integration issues better than others, but they really aren't doing anything new on a gra

  • No, I think you mean, "How virtual reality literally became virtually real virtually overnight". Also, don't forget to work "cyber" in somewhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "I don't get vertigo when I watch a video of the Grand Canyon on TV, but I do when I stand on a ledge in VR."

    I think this has pretty much been the problem with VR since the beginning. I'd phrase his comment thusly:
    People still get nauseous using VR.

    • yeah, they really oughta patch that vertigo problem at the Grand Canyon, it's horrible.
    • by Andrio (2580551)

      I have an Oculus Rift. I remember playing Half-Life 2 with it, and I got up to a window and looked down. Sure enough, I got some legit vertigo. It was great.

      And yes, there is some motion sickness and nausea. I do believe that VR is an inevitable medium, regardless. Even with the Oculus Rift, which doesn't have the fastest headtracking and does have most horrendous resolution imaginable (effectively 640x400 per eye, mere inches from the eye. Just a horrible mess of blurry pixels) many people get the motion s

  • by elwinc (663074) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @01:50PM (#47049041)

    2000000/(365.25*20) = 273.785 lines per day; 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year.

    If we assume a very heavy work schedule of 3000 hours per year, approx 60 hours per week, that's 66.667 lines per hour of fully debugged working code. Seems a bit of an over-estimate to me. (Exaggerate? I don't know the meaning of the word!

    • i think he included coding projects that he supervised.

    • 2000000/(365.25*20) = 273.785 lines per day; 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year.

      If we assume a very heavy work schedule of 3000 hours per year, approx 60 hours per week, that's 66.667 lines per hour of fully debugged working code. Seems a bit of an over-estimate to me. (Exaggerate? I don't know the meaning of the word!

      I don't think so. John is on a whole other level. 66.7 lines of code an hour is a just over a line a minute. One line a minute. Yup, I believe he cranked it out, read about him. He i

    • Copy and Paste works wonders!!!

  • ..of VR that makes writers ignore reality and talk about fantasy as if it really exists

    This is an important step toward the answer..but NOT the answer..yet

    VR is harder than anybody realizes

  • As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world.

    Total bullshit.

    "This is the first time that we've succeeded in stimulating parts of the human visual system directly,"

    Total bullshit.

    You could have said exactly the same things about the upgrade from movies to 3D movies, or from pictures to movies, and they would be just exactly as true as they are here.

    • by LRAD (1822746)

      The difference is presence. They mean that your brain accepts the visual scenario as "real".

      • Again, you could say that about movies or existing video games, any time you get “sucked in.” Until a double-blind test demonstrates indistinguishability, I'm taking any statements about your brain's acceptance of reality as marketing hype.

        Source: cognitive neuroscience degree

  • It seems pretty common to complain about the resolution. There are other projects that appear to have resolved the issue: http://www.avegant.com/ [avegant.com] And their kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/pr... [kickstarter.com] And for Abrash's book: http://amzn.com/1576101746 [amzn.com] And a good story on Carmack's background: http://amzn.com/0812972155 [amzn.com] Abrash's book is dated, but still pretty common.
  • by Agent0013 (828350) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @04:32PM (#47051027) Journal
    I can think of one difference right off the bat. In the real world your eyes converge on the distant object and each eye's lens has to focus to the distance that object is from you. In any 3D tv or headset, the eyes will do the converging part, but nobody has figured out a way to trick the eyeball into focusing at the correct depth yet. In a TV or screen, your eye will focus at that surface. In a head mounted display the focus depth may be out a bit from where the actual screen is due to the way the lenses in the head mount change the focal depth of the apparent display, but your eyes focus there and not on the 3D object you are looking at.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      So, perfect for people with glasses who haven't figured out how to focus on the correct depth of any object!

      Seriously, why do you think this is a problem when more than half the population are incapable of doing this in real life?

      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        First of all, I never stated that there was any problem! I was just pointing out that there is a difference. Look at this from the summary:

        By combining stereoscopic 3-D, 360-degree visuals, and a wide field of view—along with a supersize dose of engineering and software magic—it hacks your visual cortex. As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world.

        And just because your eyes don't focus properly, doesn't mean they don't focus at all. If your eye lenses were rigid with no focus then even with glasses you would only see things clearly when they are at the proper depth for the focus of your lenses. Like when taking a picture, the thing in focus will appear clear while the stuff closer or further is blurry. Glasses wou

        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          yet, if used consciously, it can help you separate the two mechanisms and learn to use them properly.

          I'm much happier being able to see 3d in the real world and all because I used tech like this for isolation and control.

          Anything, if done without awareness, can be detrimental. With awareness, everything turns into a tool.

          n.b. I didn't say anything about the eye not focusing at all, just that it doesn't know where to focus in the first place.

          • by Agent0013 (828350)
            I have not heard of the 3D being used for control purposes. It would make sense that something like that could actually cure people's vision problems. I have read about eye exercises you can do that will allow you to stop wearing glasses after lots of training. I have also heard of pearl divers from some island country that always have perfect vision due to the muscle development they learn. They are capable of adjusting the lens focus so they can see clearly while under water. That is pretty cool. So using
  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @08:14PM (#47052905)

    The basic problem with VR is that your eyes (and your ears and any other senses the VR kit is acting on) are telling you you are moving in a certain way yet your balance organs are telling you something completly different.

    Thats why it will give you motion sickness and cause other problems. And why, unless Occulus have come up with some brand new trick to tweak your balance organs (which I doubt they have), it will never really be able to work.

    • The issue can be condensed to 2 organs, The inner ear and the eyes.

      3 Scenarios:
      You are a Driver. You are looking at the road, and as you bump about or turn, your ears tell you you are moving and your eyes confirm this fact.
      You are a Passanger. You are looking about at the lovely scenery, same situation as above.
      You are another Passenger. You are sitting in the back seat looking at the headrest infront (there may be a screen there) or you are playing with iDevice, or simply reading a book. As the car bounces

  • could you commit suicide with the oculus rift by jumping off a fake grand canyon and suffering a heart attack? or commit murder by making someone view a frightening VR world?

  • Virtual reality timelines are fun because predicting the future itself is a type of virtual reality. They can be from a simple "by 2020 we'll have this" bet to a series of predictions that are threaded together in some way.

    I wrote out this timeline in 1994 taking care to keep everything up to that point do-able with the technology of the time. I honestly believed that a progression as described here was possible.

    Several things have come to pass -- at least on the drawing board -- such as '3D' storage in bit

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