This week during GTC 2014, Oculus VR was showcasing its latest developer kit for the Oculus Rift, DK2. Unlike what I experienced back in November, this $350 kit featured a near infrared CMOS sensor, with an update rate of 60 Hz, placed directly in front of me to catch every single body movement.
As previously reported, this version of the Rift features a resolution of 1080 x 960 per eye, and it clearly shows. The visuals look a lot more refined than the HD version I tested back in November. With this version I didn't see any pixilation whatsoever, allowing me to jump eyes first into an immersive experience.
According to the specs, the refresh rates are 75 Hz, 72 Hz and 60 Hz, and the persistence is 2 ms, 3 ms and full. The viewing optics provide a nominal 100 degree field of view. The headset also features a gyroscope, accelerometer and a magnetometer, with an update rate of 1000 Hz.
"DK2 isn't identical to the consumer Rift, but the fundamental building blocks for great VR are there. All the content developed using DK2 will work with the consumer Rift. And while the overall experience still needs to improve before it's consumer-ready, we're getting closer everyday — DK2 is not the Holodeck yet, but it's a major step in the right direction," states Oculus VR in a recent blog.
For this demo, Oculus allowed two people to play Couch Knights, a deathmatch title from Epic Games involving swords, shields, a virtual living room and the UE4 engine. Players sit in a virtual chair, controlling action-figure sized avatars in a living room setting. You can move the warrior avatar all around the immediate area, but the players remain glued to their seats.
What was seemingly new in my experience was the ability to turn my head in a number of directions and angles while the room remained in place. In other words, the camera can see that I'm turning or tilting my head, leaning forward to see my feet, and more. Thus the game renders the environment so that you feel that you're really sitting in a room with furniture and another player.
That said, I didn't see the blurred visuals I experienced with the first developer kit and the HD version shown back in November. My experience was incredibly smooth, and a sign that Oculus VR is getting closer to a retail release. When that will be I don't know, but the Rift will definitely be worth the wait.