Now Valve Doesn't Have Michael Abrash OR Jeri Ellsworth

Subject: General Tech, Displays | March 28, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, valve, Oculus, facebook

Today, Oculus VR issued a statement which claims that Michael Abrash has joined their ranks as Chief Scientist. Abrash was hired by Valve in 2011 where he led, and apparently came up with the idea for, their wearable computing initiatives. For a time, he and Jeri Ellsworth were conducting similar projects until she, and many others, were forced out of the company for undisclosed reasons (she was allowed to take her project with her which ultimately became CastAR). While I have yet to see an official announcement claim that Abrash has left Valve, I have serious doubts that he would be employed in both places for any reasonable period of time. With both gone, I wonder about Valve's wearable initaitive going forward.

Abrash at Steam Dev Days

This press statement comes just three days after Facebook announced "definitive" plans to acquire Oculus VR for an equivalent of $2 billion USD (it is twice the company Instragram was). Apparently, the financial stability of Facebook (... deep breath before continuing...) was the catalyst for this decision. VR research is expensive. Abrash is now comfortable working with them, gleefully expending R&D funds, advancing the project without sinking the ship.

And then there's Valve.

On last night's This Week in Computer Hardware (#260), Patrick Norton and I were discussing the Oculus VR acquisition. He claimed that he had serious doubts about whether Valve ever intended to ship a product. So far, the only product available that uses Valve's research is the Oculus Rift DK2. Honestly, while I have not really thought about it until now, it would not be surprising for Valve to contribute to the PC platform itself.

And, hey, at least someone is not afraid of Facebook's ownership.

Podcast #293 - NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: W9100, video, titan z, poseidon 780, podcast, Oculus, nvidia, GTC, GDC

PC Perspective Podcast #293 - 03/27/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:19:03
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:10:45 Microsoft's DirectX 12 (Live Blog)
  2. 0:37:07 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Josh: Certainly not a Skype Connection to the Studio
  5. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) Are $350, Expected July

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | March 22, 2014 - 01:04 AM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, gdc 14, GDC

Last month, we published a news piece stating that Oculus Rift production has been suspended as "certain components" were unavailable. At the time, the company said they are looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. The speculation was that the company was simply readying a new version and did not want to cannibalize their sales.

This week, they announced a new version which is available for pre-order and expected to ship in July.

DK2, as it is called, integrates a pair of 960x1080 OLED displays (correction, March 22nd @ 3:15pm: It is technically a single 1080p display that is divided per eye) for higher resolution and lower persistence. Citing Valve's VR research, they claim that the low persistence will reduce motion blur as your eye blends neighboring frames together. In this design, it flickers the image for a short period before going black, and does this at a high enough rate keep your eye fed with light. The higher resolution also prevents the "screen door effect" complained about by the first release. Like their "Crystal Cove" prototype, it also uses an external camera to reduce latency in detecting your movement. All of these should combine to less motion sickness.

I would expect that VR has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a commercial product for the general population, though. There are many legitimate concerns about leaving your users trapped in a sensory deprivation apparatus when Kinect could not even go a couple of days without someone pretending to play volleyball and wrecking their TV with ceiling fan fragments. Still, this company seems to be doing it intelligently: keep afloat on developers and lead users as you work through your prototypes. It is cool, even if it will get significantly better, and people will support its research while getting the best at the time.

DK2 is available for pre-order for $350 and is expected to ship in July.

Source: Oculus

Oculus Rift Development Kit Production is Suspending

Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus

The current Oculus Rift development kit will being to sell out, region-by-region, as their current inventory depletes. This is because "certain components" which they require are no longer available nor will they be produced. They claim to be looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. In case you are wondering, they will be floating a stash of units to fulfill replacement requests (RMAs).

oculus-ryan.jpg

As of five days ago, they currently have stock in the following regions:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • European Union
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia
  • Switzerland
  • Norway

Of course, there is now speculation that Oculus is preparing to launch a new development kit revision. It is obvious that something new is in the works, especially since they presented a prototype at this year's CES, less than two months ago. The cynical way to take this is that they are looking to deplete their stock before releasing a new unit. The other direction is that they were intending to sell the first kit for a little while longer but one or two parts became difficult to acquire. Either way, unless finding a replacement source is easy enough and they do resume production of the original kit, we might be seeing a refresh at some point.

The question is then, "How long will that take?"

CES 2014: Oculus Rift Prototype... Because Seeing Dots is a Symptom of NOT Throwing Up?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 03:35 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, CES, CES 2014

Ryan awaited his Oculus Rift eagerly right from the time he placed his Kickstarter donation. He was able to use the device for a few minutes at QuakeCon and last year's CES but he wanted to game for longer sessions to get feel for it. As it turned out, a few minutes in to an Unreal Tournament 3-based demo, he felt the onset of motion sickness.

Crystal_Cove1-640x412.jpg

Image Credit: Oculus via Ars Technica

The company was at this year's CES with a new prototype called "Crystal Cove". This version looks somewhat like a mocap suit on your face, with various white dots to be recognized by a camera. The thought seems to be that motion capture techniques are lower latency and maybe even more precise than the motion sensors alone. That, combined with the OLED screen's new policy of quickly presenting frames for only a couple of milliseconds, is supposed to make a world of difference in terms of blurriness and nausea.

There are still concerns with the Oculus as a shipping product, however. When your eyes are covered by screens you are subjecting yourself to sensory deprivation. It may be immersive but it does not replace the reality that your body exists within. The cat may be at your feet even if it is not in your virtual world. This will obviously be less of an issue when combined with the Omni treadmill (or similar device) because it keeps your body in a defined space.

Still, advances seem to happen even more quick than a yearly basis. What do you expect the state of Oculus will be at next year's CES?

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #263 - AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, nvidia, crossfire, sli, frame rating, 7990, john carmack, Oculus

PC Perspective Podcast #263 - 08/08/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:13:47

 

Oculus VR Rift HD 1080p Prototype Headset Impresses

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, VR, E3

I have been a big proponent of the Oculus Rift and its move into the world of consumer-ready VR (virtual reality) technology.  I saw it for the first time at Quakecon 2012 where Palmer Luckey and John Carmack sat on stage and addressed the new direction.  Since then we saw it at CES and finally got in our own developer kit last month for some extended hands-on.

While I have definitely been impressed with the Rift in nearly every way while using it, the first thing anyone says when putting on the headset for the first time is about the graphics - the resolution of the unit was just too low and it creates a "screen door" effect because of it.  As I wrote in my first preview:

I will say that the low resolution is definitely a barrier for me.  Each eye is only seeing a 640x800 resolution in this version of the kit and that close up you can definitely see each pixel.  Even worse, this creates a screen door effect that is basically like looking through a window with a screen installed.  It's not great but you could get used to it if you had to; I am just hoping the higher resolution version of this kit is closer.

At E3 2013 the team at Oculus was able to put together a very early prototype of an HD version of the screen.  By using a new 1920x1080 display each eye is able to see 960x1080; roughly twice the pixel density of the initial developer kit.

oculus.jpg

I got to spend some time with the higher resolution model today and I have to say that the difference is striking - and instantly noticeable.  Gone was the obvious screen door effect and I was able to focus purely on the content.  The content itself was new as well - Oculus and Epic were showing the Unreal Engine 4 integration with a custom version of the Elemental demo.  The colors were crisp, the effects were amazing and only in a couple of rare instances of solid white color did we notice the black lines that plagued the first version.

As of now Oculus doesn't have plans to offer an updated developer kit with the 1080p screen installed but you just never know.  They are still looking at several different phone screens and haven't made any final decisions on which direction to go but they are definitely close.

When I inquired about improvements on head tracking latency and accuracy to aid in motion sickness concerns (like I seem to have) Oculus was hesitant to say there was any single fix.  Instead, a combination of lower latency, better hardware and even better thought out content were key to reducing these effects in gamers.

Podcast #249 - Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Indiegogo, corair, obsidian, 350d, mATX, frame rating, 4k, titan, 7990, 690, Oculus, rift, VR, 3d, amd, amd fx, vishera, hUMA, hsa

PC Perspective Podcast #249 - 05/02/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:04:02

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Windows Movie Maker lets you record webcam videos!
    2. Jeremy: anti-pick - hotels that don't offer a RJ45 jack in the rooms!
    3. Allyn: Ventev USB charging stuff (home / auto)
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

Author:
Manufacturer: Oculus

Our first thoughts and impressions

Since first hearing about the Kickstarter project that raised nearly 2.5 million dollars from over 9,500 contributors, I have eagerly been awaiting the arrival of my Oculus Rift development kit.  Not because I plan on quitting the hardware review business to start working on a new 3D, VR-ready gaming project but just because as a technology enthusiast I need to see the new, fun gadgets and what they might mean for the future of gaming.

I have read other user's accounts of their time with the Oculus Rift, including a great write up in a Q&A form Ben Kuchera over at Penny Arcade Report, but I needed my own hands-on time with the consumer-oriented VR (virtual reality) product.  Having tried it for very short periods of time at both Quakecon 2012 and CES 2013 (less than 5 minutes) I wanted to see how it performed and more importantly, how my body reacted to it.

I don't consider myself a person that gets motion sick.  Really, I don't.  I fly all the time, sit in the back of busses, ride roller coasters, watch 3D movies and play fast-paced PC games on large screens.  The only instances I tend to get any kind of unease with motion is on what I call "roundy-round" rides, the kind that simply go in circles over and over.  Think about something like this, The Scrambler, or the Teacups at Disney World.  How would I react to time with the Oculus Rift, this was my biggest fear... 

For now I don't want to get into the politics of the Rift, how John Carmack was initially a huge proponent of the project then backed off on how close we might be the higher-quality consumer version of the device.  We'll cover those aspects in a future story.  For now I only had time for some first impressions.

Watch the video above for a walk through of the development kit as well as some of the demos, as best can be demonstrated in a 2D plane! 

Continue on to the full story for some photos and my final FIRST impressions of the Oculus Rift!

Oculus Rift to Ship March 2013

Subject: General Tech, Displays | November 28, 2012 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus

When John Carmack, Gabe Newell, and the former designer formerly known as CliffyB endorse something, it holds more clout than your typical Kickstarter project.

The Oculus Rift is a set of VR-style glasses which enclose two screens with one for each eye. You are able to track head movement to look around. You are able to see in 3D without a loss of contrast or vibrancy or otherwise introduce visual artifacts -- provided it lives up to the hype and testimony.

The Oculus was originally expected to ship at some point in December although backers just received contact by email (I have been unable to find a linkable source as of publishing) that first shipments will be available in March.

Apparently the original 5.6” LCD displays that were used for the prototypes have been discontinued by their manufacturer. The new display performs better than the original but adds an extra 30 grams of weight.

Oculus also decided to design their own VR sensors to track head motion. The new sensor polls 1000 times per second and adds a magnetometer, likely to be utilized as a compass, alongside the accelerometer and gyroscope found on the original prototype. I am not too certain how that will affect much of the core functionality but should allow for some interesting side projects.

If you held out through the duration of the Kickstarter funding period, the Oculus is available for pre-order with those units expected to ship in April.

Source: Kickstarter