Earlier this year, Oculus VR brought to CES an improved version of its virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift. While previous prototypes let gamers turn and look around within a virtual world in 360 degrees, the new version added a camera that let them reposition their heads, too — which meant looking down cliffs, peering around corners and leaning in to inspect small details more closely.
Now that same functionality will be out in the wild, albeit in a second “developer kit” rather than a full consumer version. The kit, which opens for preorders today, costs $350 and is estimated to ship in July.
At a demo area on Tuesday, Oculus representatives encouraged press to start by trying the first development kit — “Feel how blurry it is?” I heard one rep saying to a reporter — before trying the new kit. And it is a noticeable difference: The second kit, called DK2, has a higher-resolution display and less latency than its predecessor.
In layman’s terms, less latency means the virtual image changes much more quickly in response to a head’s turning or moving, which feels more realistic and is touted as a bulwark against motion sickness.
DK2 will work on the same platforms as the first development kit: PC, Mac, Linux and some Android devices. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey declined to say whether it is the same hardware used in the “oh my God” demo that helped the company raise a $75 million round, led by Andreessen Horowitz with other investors participating, last year.
Since its initial Kickstarter campaign, Oculus has led the discussion on a modern revival of virtual reality gaming, after decades of failed attempts. Yesterday, though, Sony unveiled its own virtual reality headset prototype, dubbed Project Morpheus. With pricing, final specs and consumer release dates for both devices still unannounced, it’s too early to say if one or the other has an advantage, but a key indicator may be where the game developers found at places like GDC gravitate. Stay tuned for more …
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