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Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Blows Past Kickstarter Goal 122

Virtual reality headsets have historically been very disappointing. While the concept has been fun and interesting, the technological realities never quite lived up to expectations, and hardware developers largely gave up on research into this kind of device. However, it's been long enough that display technology has caught up to our ambitions. So, where are our VR headsets? Well, hobbyist Palmer Luckey asked that same question, and when he couldn't find a good answer, he decided to build one himself. He and his team have built a prototype, and they just launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute developer kits. The campaign blew past its $250,000 goal in hours. What's interesting about this particular campaign is that Palmer took the Oculus Rift to various development studios and managed to get enthusiastic endorsements from some big names, including Cliff Bleszinski, Gabe Newell, and John Carmack.
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Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Blows Past Kickstarter Goal

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  • No, thank you. Don't send me any ads. My eyes are my most precious thing, and i am not going to blow them just to show off.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that when you publish a kickstarter campaign on HN, Reddit and probably here, too, that it maxes out pretty quickly. Hmmm, who fucking thought?
  • I'll believe it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:27PM (#40848545)
    when I see it. Too many times we've been promised the world with super cool VR goggles and helmets and appendages. Also, if I have to go buy a console first, no sale.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would bet cash money that a lot of the people who pledged on that KS thought they were getting a Rift for their ten bucks. Oh dear.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    field of vision seems awesome but the resolution for it is very low 1280x800 (640x800 per eye).
    I guess it will be good for driving and flying simulators but not for looking or killing snipers in an FPS.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      640x800 should be more than adequate for a game.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Grave ( 8234 )

      640x800 seems low, but you're talking about a screen that is half the size (or less) of a modern cell phone - I suspect that, even being only an inch or two from your eye, you won't be making out individual pixels very easily.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You've got it back to front.

        640x800 isn't too bad when at arms' length because all those pixels are crammed into a small angular window in the visual field, so the angular equivalent to "DPI" (typically Dots Per Degree, or DPD) within that small field is quite high.

        In contrast, when the field of view is a huge 110 degrees as in the Oculus Rift, those 640 horizontal pixels are spread out over a much larger angular field, perhaps 25 times larger or more, so the DPD is 25 times smaller than if those 640 pixe

    • These are my issue with it. First, they're marketing it as "1280x800" but it's not, it's 640x800x2 and that's pretty misleading. Second, that means that (especially with the FoV they're quoting) the horizontal pixel density is going to be very low.

      It'll be interesting to see how it stands up to the Sony HMZ-T1...
      • I'm sceptical about the resolution as well. Even though I think that the perceived resolution will not be as shabby.
        Here's why: Your sight works by comparing the input from both eyes. When You look at the world you do not
        effectively perceive the input of each eye separately but a blend of both eyes' inputs.

        With that as context the perceived resolution should not be 640x800 but in the range between that and
        1280x1600. Obviously there is a lot of extrapolating going on inside everybody's optical perception clu

      • by iviv66 ( 1146639 )
        At the bottom of the kickstarter page, they say:

        While it’s true that the developer kit uses a relatively low-resolution screen (1280x800), we promise it delivers a compelling, immersive 3D experience. And to be clear, we plan on improving the resolution of the screen for the consumer version. Stay tuned for more details!

        So hopefully there will be a larger resolution available by the time they actually go into mass production.

  • So... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:34PM (#40848633) Journal

    Who else isn't surprised that demand for a more effective reality-attenuator remains robust?

  • Carmack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:36PM (#40848657)

    Carmack is deeply involved with Oculus. He posts on their forums with his ideas and Oculus runs Doom 3. The guys from the verge got to play with a prototype:

    This could be a game changer. VR headsets done right.

    • Re:Carmack (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:56PM (#40848869) Journal

      What bothers me is that the headset looks like it turns your character based on your head position in the video. It should be like a free look so you can be pointed down a hallway and looking around.

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        I think that can be fixed and the developer SDK should allow to choose between modes.

        Yeah, it would make strafing pretty difficult. More than likely a simple keypress will change how that works in game.

      • Re:Carmack (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:42PM (#40850179)
        video says that the headset is essentially 'mouse look' with the feet and gun movements operated via the controller.
        • But if you watch the video, you can see the gun follow the head piece, right before he puts it on and even during some of the other scenes. Maybe it's different now (and I hope it is.)

          • by iviv66 ( 1146639 )
            Surely that's just a programming thing. The head piece gives a signal that it is being moved in a certain direction, and then its down to the game to decide what to do with that instruction. If it should move the crosshair or the viewscreen, or both. I'd hope it will be an option in the menu so people can switch between if they so desire.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was wondering about an earlier /. story,

      Is this the same project?

      • by Tr3vin ( 1220548 )
        It isn't the same project but there has been some back and forth between Carmack and the guy behind this device. Carmack has had some hands on time with earlier prototypes and they will be showing them off at QuakeCon but Carmack isn't focusing on a commercially viable VR solution as far as I know. Most of the stuff I have seen from him has been working to improve the technology by reducing latency as much as possible.
        • by TheLink ( 130905 )
          The latency better be low otherwise a lot of people are going to get motion sickness, headaches etc...
    • Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • 90s (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:40PM (#40848701)

    VR goggles have been promised to be the future of computers since the 90s. Since before the internet was a household term, even. And yet time and time again they fail to work. The reason is that our technology just isn't as sophisticated as our eyes. We have hundred megapixel vision, realtime depth perception, motion sensing, and they scan at around 200 frames per second. The amount of information our visual cortex processes and compresses for other parts of our brain make most supercomputers look stupid by comparison.

    It took millions of years to develop Human Eyeball v1.0. It's pretty arrogant to assume we'll just write a business proposal and KAZAM! (-_-) But hey, keep trying guys. In another 50 years or so, they might have evolved to the point where people don't get headaches using them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      1.0? More like v29836.232321.91872g

    • by u38cg ( 607297 )
      The problem is focus. You're being asked to use your eyes as if things are metres away but the point of focus is centimetres away. It would be possible to fix using microlens arrays but the cost would be an order of magnitude higher and there are still open problems needing solved first.
      • When you adjust the focusing lens in this headset, the apparent distance of the screen will be an infinite distance, not centimeteres. With the low resolution of the screen and the small size of human pupils, there shouldn't be any problems with the focus point being different than the convergence point, except perhaps when an object is simulated as being centimeters from your face.
        • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

          And honestly, it's not even that big a deal even with lower rez screens.

          I have a set of Fatsharks [] that I use for FPV. They are simple NTSC rez screens with very simple focusing systems and I have yet to get a headache from wearing them.

          Of course, they are also not "3D", it's just two small screens showing the same image. So no fancy effects, but it's still surprisingly immersive given the relative simplicity of the equipment. This Oculus device promises much more, but even if they only accomplish half of

    • Re:90s (Score:5, Interesting)

      by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:58PM (#40848889) Homepage Journal

      Low enough latency with accurate enough eye tracking might take some of that strain off. Human vision has some interesting quirks [], and if you focus your rendering power where and when it matters, I'd bet you could make do with a lot less resources. Calling our vision hundreds of megapixels with 200fps just isn't fact. For example, we don't see anything at all when our eyes saccade [], the brain stops looking at input while the scenery is still in relative motion. This could be exploited, by only drawing when our eyes are not in saccade (of course you need to analyze relative motion of objects with where the eye is going. Read that wiki link for more on that, particularly the bits talking about fast moving objects. Still more reading here. []

      Basically, if you can track the eye and perhaps even motor feedback (if we get that far, yea) we can exploit all these eye motions. Drawing the full screen at a full rate all the time is extremely wasteful.

      I can't say anything about the motor feedback. Given the recent bionic eye [] work, and brain implants [] restoring a facsimile of vision, that might not be as far off as you think. We have basic working eye tracking already and a visor is the ideal environment for such a thing anyway.

    • VR goggles have been promised to be the future of computers since the 90s. Since before the internet was a household term, even. And yet time and time again they fail to work. The reason is that our technology just isn't as sophisticated as our eyes. We have hundred megapixel vision, realtime depth perception, motion sensing, and they scan at around 200 frames per second. The amount of information our visual cortex processes and compresses for other parts of our brain make most supercomputers look stupid by comparison.

      It took millions of years to develop Human Eyeball v1.0. It's pretty arrogant to assume we'll just write a business proposal and KAZAM! (-_-) But hey, keep trying guys. In another 50 years or so, they might have evolved to the point where people don't get headaches using them.

      We can say the same thing for wireless communicators and look where that's gotten us...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We'll never have technology as sophisticated as nature if we don't try.

    • "In another 50 years or so, they might have evolved to the point where people don't get headaches using them."

      And just how do you think that will happen if people don't keep experimenting?

    • However this unit sucks ass because, like all VR goggles that aren't ultra expensive, it is low rez. It is 640x800. Given the large image it will present to the viewer that translates to massive pixels. I've used VR headsets like that and it sucks.

      They need to at least be talking resolutions on par with televisions, then there is something to talk about. No it won't be full human eye rez, but then you can give an experience that is "Better than a TV."

      There will still be problems, focus being the big one (ou

      • I don't think 640x800 will be a problem. That's per eye for a start and not focusing on a single screen image. Plus this will work differently, it will wrap around your vision.

        Really I'd like to see this paired with Tobii eye tracking [] which looked amazing the last demo I saw on line. You could maybe boost the detail where ever the eye look,s like normal eyes work, but I was thinking more game interaction since you can react and interact faster with something on screen just by looking

        • Eye tracking isn't really helpful until the screen resolution is high enough that you don't have the processing power to render all of it at full resolution - you can concentrate rendering power on a moving focal area, you can't concentrate physical pixels. And at 2 * 640x800 that's nowhere close to being an issue.

          Personally my choice of interaction would be something like the Kinect augmented with a Wii remote (sans IR sensor). I've wondered why you never see them paired, they seem to complement each oth

      • Focus shouldn't be much too much of an issue until the displays are much higher resolution. The push for very high resolutions by smartphones has made this product possible at a low price. One or two display makers recently showed a a prototype of a screen with double the linear resolution of the one used in the Oculus. Beyond that, it may take a long while for even higher resolutions.
        • Is that double the linear or areal resolution? I could see 1600x1280 being entirely adequate for a pretty sweet experience, probably about on par with playing a Wii game on a 40" TV from a couple feet away. Yes it would be a little crude, but the immersion could well be worth it. It's also possible they could put some sort of diffusion film in front of the display to cause the pixels to "run together" so you wouldn't get blockiness. Even a sheet of tracing paper a mm above the screen might do the trick,

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      I actually think this one is promising, for two reasons.

      One, it has a narrow focus on gaming. Narrow focus means it can concentrate on getting one thing done right, and gaming means its use case is something you can just stop doing when it becomes uncomfortable. It's not like sitting still and looking at a screen for hours would be specifically healthy.

      Two, many of the problems are in areas where we've expanded our knowledge and abilities recently. Yeah, screens are still below the human resolution, but kee

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The reason is that our technology just isn't as sophisticated as our eyes. We have hundred megapixel vision, realtime depth perception, motion sensing, and they scan at around 200 frames per second.

      You do know that current monitors can't do any of that either? Yet people are still playing games just fine on them. This doesn't need to be perfect, just good enough. History has shown us that the threshold for "good enough" can be pretty damn low.

  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:49PM (#40848791)
    Seriously, do we need a Slashdot story about every piece of Kickstarter vaporware that meets its funding goal? Here's an idea, how about we start running Slashdot stories when something from Kickstarter goes from rendering to shipping actual products. That will cut down stories like these tenfold. Cool ideas are dime a dozen, and it's nice to see these guys met their goal, but going from vision to prototype to product is something Kickstarters have proven to be problematic, especially for people who have no experience in business, product development, sales, and manufacturing.
    • WTFV and see the biggest names in computer gaming vocalizing their support, then calm your ass down about "slashvertisements".
      • Vocalizing support and shipping a product are two different things. The only prototype I've seen of this thing is held together with duct tape. Yeah maybe it works and it's cool, but it's a far cry from shipping thousands of working units, especially with $400k in funding.

        Which is another worrying point... why did they set their funding goal at $250k? Do they honestly think that is enough? I don't see any indications on their website they have any other financial backing, so Kickstarter looks like their
        • I believe their initial goal is just to get the dev kit (your duct tape version). Maybe they'll add stretch goals now that their initial goal was blown away within hours of posting.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      especially for people who have no experience in business, product development, sales, and manufacturing.

      Riiiiiight, John Carmack has none of the above.

      • I'm not saying the team behind this doesn't have the chops, maybe they do maybe they don't. But Kickstarter in general has proven to be a place where projects go overbudget and schedules are perpetually pushed back.

        All we know about the team behind this project is that it's "led by a number of successful video game veterans and virtual reality visionaries" and "The company was founded by Palmer Luckey and veterans of RedOctane, developers of the acclaimed Guitar Hero series, Scaleform, the #1 user interf
        • Fuck Carmack! Gaben STOOD UP and told you to back this. When the man behind the revolution of PC gaming backs something, you need to quit bitching and get in line. Carmack has always been a crackpot, but Gabe has consistently backed the winning horse.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's actually one guy who was doing 99% of the work before Carmack stumbled across his work and started the, well deserved imo, hype machine. Palmer is no longer alone in this endeavour and the retail product is all but set in concert for next year. It's suggested it'll be helped by a popular gaming hardware manufacturer who I believe would be Razor given their experimentation habits. I can say with a high degree of confidence this isn't vaporware, whether or not it catches on with the market is another thi

    • Seriously, do we need a Slashdot story about every piece of Kickstarter vaporware that meets its funding goal?

      How can it be vaporware if they've already built and distributed fully-operational prototypes to several individuals/companies?

      Carmack's been tweeting about specs and improvements he's been making for months now.

      • I dunno, maybe the same way Duke Nukem Forever was vaporware even though we saw screenshots and sneak previews of it for 14 years. The only images I see of it are renderings, and the only actual video of it I've seen the thing is cobbled together with headphones, Oakley snow goggles, and duct tape.

        And where are you seeing these Tweets? The only two Tweets I see by Carmack in the past year regard the Oculus are "I should make it clear that I have no direct ties with Oculus; I endorse it is a wonderful adv
    • by lordofthechia ( 598872 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @11:20PM (#40851825)

      As a nerd who was heavily into consumer VR headsets and has been disappointed in the offerings available since the 90s, this excites me. Now consider that:

      1. People here are highly interested in tech stuff (you know, stuff that matters)
      2. Putting something here, to the attention of the 100s of thousands of Slashdot users increases the chances that a project such as this will reach its funding goal and you know, we get the story about it successfully shipping in the next year.
      3. They already have a working prototype (must have missed the duct tape) and working software.
      4. The developer units (you know if you pledge $300) ship in December.
      5. Not all of us are cynical assholes and are willing to chip into other fellow geeks/techies/engineer's dreams.

      So excuse us while we get excited over new tech and chip in any way we can to make it happen instead of bitching and moaning about it on a forum.

      Now go check to see what things have been made possible via Kickstarter []. Even things for all to enjoy [].

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      From what I've seen in the video, they only want to go to prototype stage at this point in time, and they appear to already have some individual prototypes (no doubt manually assembled, etc.) that they have shown to people to convince them.

      Yes, ideas are cheap. Which is why successful kickstarters show more than just the idea, they demonstrate you can pull it off, by showing an early version, a prototype, or whatever you have.

      There are many, many kickstarter projects that don't reach their funding goals.

    • by Tronster ( 25566 )

      ...Here's an idea, how about we start running Slashdot stories when something from Kickstarter goes from rendering to shipping actual products.

      I'd rather hear about promising emerging techs we'll see in the future than press releases when these are out to the mass public; near future projects (consumer or otherwise) is one of the reasons I read Slashdot daily.

      I'm sure in the process some items will be vaporware, but I'd expect the majority of these editor approved stories will make it to consumers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Virtual porn, its as simple as that. It does not matter how much this is if they get some decent virtual porn it will be successful.

    Sad a bit but that's life.

  • Now we know what we should expect from the next generation. 3D-TV does not do it for me for so many reasons -- TV is expensive, it's not portable and I haven't seen one that really impresses me.

    Everything I saw about the kickstart video makes sense. The components needed to make the thing have only recently matured to the point where doing this is not only possible, but easy enough to make it into a consumer product. (You know, "retina displays" low-power, high performance GPUs and all that?)

    As far as I

    • by jcgam69 ( 994690 )

      Let's put it this way: If Sony did this, I would buy a Sony device without hesitation. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I am saying I would betray my own principles to play with this stuff.)

      I have the SONY HMZ-T1 [] and it is fantastic. I use it with the PC and PS3. I haven't tried connecting a TrackIR but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work.

      • Too expensive and resolution is too low but I can see where that would be pretty close. The descriptioin of the device doesn't lead me to believe it will give a wide, surround-vision experience.

      • Carmack covered this, the latency on the HMZ-T1 is extraordinarily high. For movie playback and typical 3d gaming (the controls and results are so disconnected, we don't have such a strong physiological expectation of view moving with our controller input), no big deal. Problematic, however, for head tracking where our systems *really* expect the view and head movements to correlate closely and the lag is noticable.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:08PM (#40849031)

    Back in 1995, VR gaming had a brief surge.

    I had a pair of Virtual i-o I-glasses that had a head tracker and resolution of 640x480 per eye, and cost less than $500 new.

    What does Occulus bring to the table that wasnt already tried and failed back then? (in a much neater/lighter glasses-like package too I might add).

    No gamer will take Occulus seriously with a resolution of only 640x800 per eye.

    Even 17 years ago, my I-glasses with their similarly low res 640x480 seemed too crappy to use seriously, compared to the my monitor with its res of 1280x1024.

    These days people are completely used to full HD 1920x1080. its become the defacto bare minimum spec for any kind of gaming display these days.

    17 years later from I-glasses, still the best that can be done is 640x800 per eye? If so Occulus is dead in the water. To appeal to hardcore gamers, as a minimum it needs to be up around 1920x1080, if not better.

    I'm not in any way associated with this auction but if you just wanna see what I-glasses look like: []

    • That resolution is not really correct for Virtual i/o glasses from the 90's. I still have the setup in a box in my closet. The maximum input resolution is correctly 640x480. What you actually get displayed though is half of that per eye. It is most noticeable with text. The resolution is not good at all.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        Ahh now you said that somethings vaguely coming back...
        I think they sold a version that people could buy to just watch DVDs on etc. (no head tracker or VGA support) that was a lower spec.
        I seem to remember there being some kind of box you needed to convert video to VGA (or was it the other way round?). Weren't video signals displayed in half the resolution of VGA signals or something?

  • Other VR systems have come and gone, most without even registering on the radar.
    For the more recent ones, its not because the systems themselves have been lacking. Rather it is the lack of software that utilizes the systems. Developers want people to buy their creations, so they work with what people already have in the way of hardware.

    This latest attempt is focusing on getting game developers on board first, and seems to be pulling in some pretty big guns in the industry. If the plan works out, we'll see b

    • Well this isn't the consumer model, that will come later and will most likely include headphones, who knows maybe even a mic, but this is probably more to see if the important tech can work out, headphones and mics are not the problem.

  • Check out the resolution, 640x480 per eye and that's like two inches from your eye. You'll find more pixels on a iphone and that you hold two feet away from yourself.

    Doesn't seem like something that would be worth it at that resolution. That's downright eye cancer waiting to happen.
  • since i dont see it mentioned.
  • I used to own a vfx-1. I have astigmatism really bad, and different levels of correction are required for each eye. As a consequence I could *NEVER* get a clear image through the HUD, and had eyestrain in under 5 minutes. (That and the 256 color palleted texture mode limitation of the VFC it used. Blech.)

    This device looks like it will have similar focus issues.

    Now for the stupid questions.

    Google's project glass is an augmented reality system. Simply add an occulter in front of the eyes, ad IR illumination i

    • by jeti ( 105266 )

      Those two are very different devices. The Glass projects a small image above your normal viewing area and tries to not get in the way of your perception of reality. The Rift tries to cover your entire viewing area and replace your perception of reality.

      • 110* is hardly your entire viewing area, regardless of the video claims and grossly exaggerated animation displayed when reporting the field of view (they clearly show the horizontal FOV expanding to 180*) . Your eye has a FOV of almost 180* in all directions when focused straight forward, while this this is maybe 90*x40*. That covers the most "important" area of vision and is better than anything else I've seen in the consumer market, but the boundaries will still be clearly visible and severely hamper s

  • The project seems pretty cool and exciting but OT, I'm sure many of you feel the same - the kickstarter stuff supposed to be a grassroot project support platform. I'm not sure if many projects have the resource to script and produce such a super slick video that is almost like an info-mercial.
    • by Lando ( 9348 )

      Well, I'd say that's the difference between people that are serious about a project and those that do things as a hobby. I'm not opposed to helping fund something that interests me, whether it be big business or Joe working out of mom's basement. What's really important is funding people that are doing stuff that I am interested in and are serious about the project, not just pulling in cash so they can play with their toys without producing anything or worse yet just trying to get money for nothing. Wi

  • The most popular VR headset caught on like wildfire, selling over 4 million units in Japan alone for the game The World...a game which resides inside the fake world created inside another game series called DOT HACK. Sorry, I had to, lol. Any DOT HACK fans out there?
    The theory, however, is quite sounds and doesn't feel like some unrealistic projection of the future. I think it was only 2024 or something when even DOT HACK GU allegedly took place. They have fake news stories in the game about people bein
  • I was at Siggraph in 1998 (in Orlando) and a vendor there (no idea who) had a pretty cool setup: a set of off-the-shelf glasses that were totally reasonably sized, held onto your head with an elastic strap, and on the back was a gyro pack (that they made) that was about 1" x 2" maybe. They had it hooked up to a fast machine running GL Quake and it looked PERFECT. Or, at least, worlds better than some other crappy VR games I had seen where you had a thing the size of a bike helmet that ran at about 5-10 fps.

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