You might have seen the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset when it was showcased last year. It still has yet to be released to market, but even so, it is being fine-tuned and improved upon while in development. The Crystal Cove prototype was tested by PC Magazine at CES, and was pleased with the upgrades.
The Crystal Cove prototype being showcased at CES was a step above the initial offering in the Oculus Rift development kit – from 720p to full 1080p video. Who wouldn't like this upgrade? It is the sharpest, most natural picture you can imagine. While that is a big upgrade, there are plenty more to discuss.
Bye Bye, Blur
When you want a virtual reality experience, it should represent just that – reality. Kind of hard when things don't look quite right. Oculus VR has been working hard to address many minor details that all add up to a better experience. For instance, the company has been working towards reducing blur in the Oculus Rift.
The image looks blurry for a few reasons – the video data being displayed by the Rift along with motion data being processed are just a touch out of sync with each other, and the motion sensors are being polled less frequently than the screen is being refreshed. This causes a lapse in motion data at the time of screen refresh, leading to a blurry appearance.
Their solution was to refresh the display only at times the motion sensors are polled. This leads to a smoother video, virtually eliminating blur because it's only refreshing when motion data is in sync.
Better Motion Tracking
Last year's Oculus Rift relied on internal motion sensors along with accelerometers to track the user's movements. The new Crystal Cove prototype takes it a step further in the name of tracking enhancement with the addition of a camera and infrared LEDs. The LEDs provide important data as to where the headset is within a three-dimensional space, leading to more accurate head tracking. It tracks the gamut of directional data – pitch, tilt, yaw, and location on the X, Y, and Z axis.
The PC Magazine tester demoed the Crystal Cove prototype twice, the first in a tower defense game requiring you to look down and survey a maze below. Testing proved the Crystal Cove to feel completely natural in terms of the view and associated angles. The view would shift as if he was really there in the virtual world.
He pointed to casino games being a logical application for this technology, where the user can look down and feel like they are sitting at a physical table.
The second demo, a space flight simulator, went just as well. He was blasting enemy ships, using the controller to launch missiles and looking at planes to lock said missile on target. You feel like you're really blasting ships!
There has been no word as to the release of the Oculus Rift Crystal Cove. They want to make sure it works perfectly with engaging content first.