Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Virtual Reality in 2015
What expectations do you have for 2015 about the Oculus Rift ?
Oculus VR has always communicated clearly that they do not want to call any release date too soon, because they want to deliver a good product. They know well that they only have one chance to put VR in its new form on the map. Oculus has stated that they would be very disappointed when they couldn’t deliver the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift in 2015.
Because of the acquisition by Facebook, sufficient financial resources to scale up are within reach. Making it very likely that they come up with a good product on the market by 2015. It’s also expected that the Samsung Galaxy Note with 4K resolution will make its way to the consumer around September 5th, 2015 (IFA in Berlin? ). Given the close collaboration with Samsung, it’s likely to imagine Oculus will equip the consumer version of its Rift with a 4K screen. We therefore expect the consumer release of the Oculus Rift will be announced in the last quarter of 2015 and will be in stores somewhere in the first half of 2016.
What do you expect next year from other eyewear (such as the Gear VR / Google Cardboard) ?
The problem of Google Cardboard and Gear VR is that these are based on the full use of the mobile hardware to provide a VR experience. The Oculus Rift is using the mobile hardware only to show an image and to follow the head position. Computing and building the images, the physics, content, network traffic, artificial intelligence, animation, graphics and more that’s needed to deliver the experience, is handled by your PC. For a good VR experience you should present at least 70 frames per second and preferably even faster. This prevents the loss of synchronisation between the head movement and visual display which can make people become nauseous or dizzy. Assuming the maximum possible on a PC, there must be a substantial compromise on quality in order to get the right speed. And it is still unknown what will happen to a smartphone when it’s performing at full capacity for a long amount of time. The Gear VR is also tied to only one type of expensive samsung phone at the moment. Making it unlikely to reach a large amount of consumers at first. The cardboard doesn’t have any calibrated sensors and lenses, so that will definately remains a gimmick. We expect more clarity in 2015 about the other ‘serious’ VR HMD systems such as Sony’s Morpheus for the PS4 and the “yet to be announced” (E3 summer?) VR HMD from Microsoft for the Xbox One. The latter two will, in view of the platform, mainly be focused on VR games.
Is there something that needs to be changed or improved before VR can/will break? If so, what ?
It would be nice if the resolution was somewhat higher, so you can look further and/or can perceive even more detail. But the experience is already good enough, so this doesn’t break the immersion. Thanks to the development of screens in mobile phones, this will soon be improved. Mobile 4K screens are expected in the 2nd half of 2015. Oculus is working to integrate motion tracking of the hands and fingers in their glasses. For this, they have recently acquired Nimble VR. This company, founded by former Kinect developers, developed a 3D camera that is able to convert hand and finger movements to the right data to make a 3d representation of it in VR. This will enable you to pick up things or operate buttons in VR.
Within game development for VR there is still plenty of experimenting needed to be done with specific gameplay concepts. It must keep VR motion sickness low and VR must add value to the game by bringing the next level of immersion. For the various non gaming areas where VR can be of great significance, such as architecture, simulation, prototyping, health and education, it is very important that there are several good VR (Proof Of Concept) applications / prototypes which allow us to show the added value VR can bring.
After several years of experience developing for the first (DK1) and second (DK2) version of the Oculus Rift, it is clear to us that 2015 will definitely be a very important year for Virtual Reality!