The Oculus Rift S

(source: picture from Oculus.com)

The Oculus Rift S was announced at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday 20th March 2019.  It was a surprising announcement for the virtual reality community to hear as most were expecting details of the anticipated new Oculus Quest standalone VR headset instead.  The hype had been building for wanting to know the details of this new Quest headset as well as the release date which wasn’t helped by Oculus creating the hashtag #QuestCountown.  So for many, this announcement was an instant disappointment.  In hindsight that marketing strategy was a poor decision because I don’t think that most of us gave the Oculus Rift S a fair chance to blow us away as a result of the Quest hype that surrounded us.

Whilst on the subject of a poor marketing strategy, Oculus decided not to host a livestream of the announcement for a more global audience.  The previous day at GDC gamers were blown away by Google’s Stadia announcement that was livestreamed for all to enjoy.  (For those unsure: Stadia is a platform for game streaming using Google’s infrastructure meaning you can stream from browsers or even join live games by clicking a link to join via YouTube streams).

Google Stadia livestream image
(source: screenshot taken during the live announcement on Google’s YouTube channel)

However, VR YouTuber Nathie came to the rescue and decided to host a gathering of hyped up fans who were fit to burst for more Quest news.  Nathie hosted a live chat, social media scavenge and revealed the latest news from the Oculus Blog via his YouTube channel.  It was actually amazing being together at a virtual gathering and having the ability to chat with one another pre, during and post announcement.  My insight of mixed reactions absolutely came from this experience.  Brands who care about product launches and seek genuine ‘in the moment’ feedback would be wise to consider this communication style for themselves in the future.  Anyway, Nathie deserves a pat on the back for picking up the mantle and for doing a pretty impressive job of it!

Introducing the Oculus Rift S
First of all, the immediate headline here is that the Oculus Rift S is brought to us through an Oculus and Lenovo partnership.  I for one am extremely impressed by this collaboration!  For those of you who don’t know, I am a Lenovo ‘Super Champion’ meaning that I am an ambassador for their products.  I have the upmost respect for Lenovo in the immersive product space as they are the only company in the world to have brought a mixture of hardware products to us across the spectrum of Augmented Reality (Jedi Challenges), Virtual Reality (Mirage Solo and now the Oculus Rift S) and Mixed Reality (Lenovo Explorer) not to mention their high end gaming Lenovo Legion products.  I am also a fan of Oculus and part of their Oculus Start programme for the work I am doing in the VR for dementia space with Pivotal Reality.  The Oculus and Lenovo partnership in itself is immensely respectable as I think it sends a strong message to others that we must all work together in order to help bring VR to the masses.

Let’s take a look at the Oculus Rift S video and then discuss 1st impressions:


(‘Introducing the Oculus Rift S’ video from Oculus YouTube Channel)

Will the Oculus Rift S help VR go mainstream?
Don’t get me wrong I completely understand some of the feelings around this headset not giving us more experienced VR users the mind blowing wow factor that we were expecting.  BUT, let’s not forget there’s more to come from Oculus on that front!  So in the meantime let’s look at the Oculus Rift S for what it is.  It’s an evolutionary version of the Oculus Rift CV1 that was released just under 3 years ago.  It is a single tethered headset (meaning you have to connect it to a compatible computer) that has improvements for a more enjoyable gaming experience.  The improved optics, lenses and pixel density sound more pleasing to the eyes and the field of view has been said to be marginally larger than the tradition Rift experience.  Initial reactions from the VR community is divided in those last areas but everyone who has tried it out haven’t complained about the realism of the graphics or said that it is a bad immersive experience so I am optimistic about them.  The built in sensors coupled with the Passthrough+ technology is exciting because this takes away the hassle of setting up external sensors or risk of bumping into something in the real world environment.  In other words, it removes a barrier for accessibility allowing first time users to have confidence with an easier plug and play approach to VR whilst still enabling a safe roomscale experience.  Which I think it awesome!  To think that many of us had our first VR experiences on the DK1, Google cardboard or a Samsung Gear then this headset absolutely betters those experiences for first timers.  Another good thing in my book.

The new ‘Ergonomic halo headband’ with adjustable fit wheel for greater comfort is a smart choice of design.  I suspect that with the popularity of games such as Beatsaber where gamers are likely to spend a longer duration wearing headsets than ever before has been taken into consideration here.  HMD (Head Mounted Displays) in general have to become versatile to suit a wide range of user needs.  We need headsets that we can trust, are not heavy, will not slip, will not cause discomfort and can handle sharp/sudden movements.  I have yet to see or hear any feedback on this subject so I am led to believe that the Oculus Rift S must feel natural and live up to expectations here.  The weight balance has also been focused on by the Lenovo design team so I am assuming this was another contributing factor for this product design partnership.  The adjustable fit wheel is something that we currently use on the Lenovo Mirage Solo for example, as well as the PSVR headset of course.  Light blocking improvements have been made to the Rift S too.

Another positive for accessibility is the cross platform compatibility for the Oculus Store.  Meaning that owners of the original Oculus Rift can still enjoy their purchased VR experiences using the new Oculus Rift S and vice versa.  As a side note and speaking of cross platforms, it is an interesting fact that Lenovo have now worked with Google and their Daydream platform and now Oculus and their Oculus Store platform too.

The Rift S has 5 cameras to provide the insight tracking and many are reporting that the new touch controllers work great with this feature.  Ultimately your hands are tracked throughout your experience even when positioned behind you meaning that even if simulating a bow and arrow gesture it would be picked up in-game.  Very cool!  The cameras on the front of the headset looks distinctly like a Lenovo design and resonates that of the Mirage Solo’s design too.

Let’s talk specs:
I haven’t saw anything official from Oculus that clarified this for certainty but there are details being reported elsewhere for this information.  I’m not confident or in the know so therefore I encourage you to look elsewhere for this information.  From my research I can see that the Rift S appears to have the following:

Resolution: 2560 x 1440 (compared to Rift 2160 x 1200)
Pixel Density: approx 600ppi (compared to Rift 456ppi)
Refresh rate: 80Hz (compared to Rift 90Hz)
(Source: Road to VR)

Not sure if your computer or laptop supports the new Rift S?  Here’s a handy table with the specifications required to operate the Rift and Rift S:

Specifications required for Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S (Source: Oculus Support)
Component Recommended Spec Minimum Spec
Processor Intel i5-4590/AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater Intel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
Graphics Card NVIDIA GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or greater NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater
Alternative Graphics Card NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater NVIDIA GTX 960 4 GB/AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater
Memory 8 GB+ RAM 8 GB+ RAM
Operating System Windows 10 or newer Windows 10 or newer
USB Ports Rift 3x USB 3.0 ports, plus 1x USB 2.0 port 1x USB 3.0 port, plus 2x USB 2.0 ports
USB Ports Rift S 1x USB 3.0 port 1x USB 3.0 port
Video Output Rift Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
Video Output Rift S Compatible DisplayPort video output Compatible miniDisplayPort video output

If interested, the Oculus Rift S will be released in Spring 2019 and will cost $399 for the headset including the controllers.

The only thing left to do now is to excitedly wait for further details of the Oculus Quest and see how it compares to its tethered brother!

Amazon’s #VR Headsets #Prime Deals

I thought I would save you scouting around – you’re welcome 🙂

Oculus Rift and Touch Controllers Bundle (£50 off) – £349.00

Sony Playstation VR Starter Pack – (50% off Playstation Plus) – £248

Samsung Gear Gen 2 – £27.75

Not in Prime but still worth mentioning:

HTC Vive Focus (blue) – £699.00

(Amazon’s Choice) Oculus Go (32GB) – £199.00

Lenovo Google Mirage Solo – out of stock on Amazon – but £350 elsewhere

Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality hardware highlights 11th-17th February

A run through of all this week’s Virtual Reality (and Mixed Reality) hardware highlights from my Social Media feeds.  Let me know if you find this section of my blog useful.

 

HP Windows Mixed Reality
HP shows off a Windows Mixed Reality kit for professional VR devs
(Written by Roland Moore-Colyer via The INQUIRER shared by Rob Crasco)

 

VR Chair
Positron Voyager virtual reality chair snags $1.4 million in seed funding
(Written by Brad Jones via Digital Trends shared by Tim Merel)

 

Don’t forget to have a scan through the other blogs posted this week including VR applications, VR Strategy, VR Dev and Functionality and we have a dedicated post relating to all of the Magic Leap news from last week too.

Next week’s blog will be published later than usual as I will be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona!  Stay tuned for exciting updates from that event via my Twitter account @TheHappyLass

Have a great week 🙂

Highlights dedicated to news & articles about Magic Leap during 11th-17th February

We thought we’d bunch all this weeks Magic Leap articles together as they’re we so many updates relating to them this week!  The excitement and curiosity is building across the globe!  Any wonder!  Take a look below to see the amazing news & articles concerning them this week.

 

magic leap cheapest headsets
Magic Leap’s cheapest headsets will cost as much as a high-end phone
(Written by Adi Robertson via The Verge shared by TonyVT SkarredGhost)

 

Magic Leap additional funding
Magic Leap Gets Additional Funding from Axel Springer
(Written by Jamie Feltham via Upload VR shared by Tipatat)

 

Magic Leap just got even better
Magic Leap’s staggering VR goggle technology just got even better!
(Written by Kieren McCarthy via The Register shared by Suzanne Lee)

 

Magic Leap collaboration with NBA
Magic Leap announce collaboration with NBA
(Written by Jeff Ruediger published and shared by Magic Leap)

 

magic-leaps-predicted-screens.jpg
Here’s What Magic Leap’s Screens Feature Might Look Like
(Written by Tommy Palladino via Next Reality shared by Awe)

 

Don’t forget to have a scan through the other blogs posted this week including VR applications, VR Strategy, VR Hardware and VR Dev & Features news from last week too.

Next week’s blog will be published later than usual as I will be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona!  Stay tuned for exciting updates from that event via my Twitter account @TheHappyLass

Have a great week 🙂

Virtual Reality Strategy highlights 11th-17th February

A run through of all this week’s Virtual Reality Strategy highlights from my Social Media feeds.  Let me know if you find this section of my blog useful.

 

Monetization models
Inside one VR company’s iterative path to becoming revenue-positive
(Written by Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh via Venturebeat shared by Kathleen Chung)

 

Smartphone is going to die
The smartphone is eventually going to die, and we’re not ready for what comes next
(Written by Matt Weinberger via Business Insider UK shared by VR World)

 

Record number attendees for social VR
The world record for the most people ever in a social VR experience simultaneously?
(Thread created and shared by Taylor Freeman)

 

Don’t forget to have a scan through the other blogs posted this week including VR applications, VR Dev & Functionality, VR Hardware and we have a dedicated post relating to all of the Magic Leap news from last week too.

Next week’s blog will be published later than usual as I will be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona!  Stay tuned for exciting updates from that event via my Twitter account @TheHappyLass

Have a great week 🙂

Virtual & Augmented Reality Applications highlights 11th-17th February

A run through of all this week’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications highlights from my Social Media feeds.  Let me know if you find this section of my blog useful.

 

Japanese tourism
Japanese tour firm offers virtual reality holidays – with a first class seat
(Written and published via The Guardian shared by TonyVR SkarredGhost)

 

virgin galactic tour
Virgin Galactic’s VR-powered website lets you tour its spaceships
(Written by Rob LeFebvre via Engadget UK shared by Leen Segers)

 

Futurisitic sports tournament
Futuristic AR eSports Tournament Coming To USA
(Written by Kyle Melnick published & shared by VR Scout)

 

Harry Potter AR game
Niantic’s Harry Potter game will be a defining moment for AR
(Written by Yariv Levski via The Next Web shared by Spectral VR)

 

Don’t forget to have a scan through the other blogs posted this week including VR dev & functionality, VR Strategy, VR Hardware and we have a dedicated post relating to all of the Magic Leap news from last week too.

Next week’s blog will be published later than usual as I will be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona!  Stay tuned for exciting updates from that event via my Twitter account @TheHappyLass

Have a great week 🙂

VR (Dev & Functionality) highlights 11th-17th February

A run through of all this week’s Virtual Reality (Dev and Functionality) highlights from my Social Media feeds.  Let me know if you find this section of my blog useful.  Feel free to contact me if you want to feature any Virtual Reality Developer or Functionality stories in a future blog edition.

 

vr browsers
VR browsers are key to a more immersive web
(Written by Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh via Venturebeat shared by Billy Vacheva)

 

volumetric video
Volumetric Video Platform
(Created and shared by Volumetric Video Platform)

 

volumetric 3d model
Interactive Volumetric 3D Model
(Created and shared by Oncor Video)

 

Motion Sickness cure
A Possible Cure for Virtual Reality Motion Sickness
(Written by Jay Samit via Fortune shared by HATC London)

 

Positioning Sync test
Positioning Sync Testing between #ARCore & #HTCVive made with Unity
(Created and shared by mechpilot)

 

Brain-controlled video game
Brain-controlled video game to hit VR arcades this year
(Written and posted by VRWorld shared by Disrupt)

 

Don’t forget to have a scan through the other blogs posted this week including VR applications, VR Strategy, VR Hardware and we have a dedicated post relating to all of the Magic Leap news from last week too.

Next week’s blog will be published later than usual as I will be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona!  Stay tuned for exciting updates from that event via my Twitter account @TheHappyLass

Have a great week 🙂