Virtual reality headsets seem to be the next big thing in gaming, and spearheading this technology is the much-awaited Oculus Rift. If you wanted to know what makes the Oculus Rift headset tick, the guys at iFixit have released its teardown of the device, saying that they were impressed. The headset got a score of 9 out of 10 for repairability and “can be taken apart in less than 10 minutes”.
It is worth noting, however, that the version of the Oculus Rift that was taken apart is the developer version which was sent out to backers of the Kickstarter campaign. Whether or not the consumer version will be this easy to take apart and repair will only be known once the headset has been launched for the public.
So far, everyone who has had hands-on time with the Oculus Rift at events such as PAX or GDC has been mightily impressed by the headset. It will be interesting to see how the developers handled the latency issues that are associated with virtual reality gaming headsets.
The Oculus Rift gets a 9 out of 10 from iFixit
A programmer from Valve, Michael Abrash, talked about the latency issues back in January through a blog post on the Valve blog. The main takeaway from the post is the subject of latency. According to the post, latency is the biggest enemy of virtual reality.
Abrash wrote, “When it comes to VR and AR, latency is fundamental—if you don't have low enough latency, it's impossible to deliver good experiences, by which I mean virtual objects that your eyes and brain accept as real.”
The biggest problem from latency is perceiving virtual objects to be real. Real, in this sense, doesn't mean that they don't look virtual, “but rather that your perception of them as part of the world as you move your eyes, head, and body is indistinguishable from your perception of real objects.”
Abrash states that virtual objects have to stay in the same perceived real-world locations as you move. Being right only 99 percent of the time because of latency is no good, “because the occasional mis-registration is precisely the sort of thing your visual system is designed to detect, and will stick out like a sore thumb.”
The Oculus Rift isn't the only virtual reality gaming headset around. Valve had revealed its plans for a virtual reality gaming headset in September last year, and it seems the company will face greater technical challenges when developing its headset as compared to Google’s Project Glass. While Google’s glasses will display texts and video conferences, Valve has greater technical challenges to overcome with augmented-reality games. It has to figure out how to keep stable an image of a virtual object (say, a billboard) that is meant to be attached to a real-world object (the side of a building) while a player moves around. Otherwise, the illusion would be shattered.