Tag Archives: Oculus

Blast from the Past – Oculus Rift Prototype (2012)

Way back in 2012, John Carmack (one of the original creators of the video game “Doom”) took an interest in Palmer Luckey’s prototype for the first Oculus “Rift” headset. Carmack eventually went on to become the CTO of Oculus after Facebook acquired the technology from Palmer for $2 billion. See excerpt below from Carmack’s “A day with an Oculus Rift” (May 17, 2012):

I am going to be giving several demos in the next month, and Palmer graciously loaned me one of his test HMDs to go with the other things I have to show. Here are my impressions after a day of working with it:

When I first powered it up, it looked like the screen was badly offset, but this turned out to be a problem with the analog VGA input that Palmer had also seen before. Making a custom display mode with different horizontal timing parameters got it fixed up. The plan is for the kits to have a panel with a digital interface, which will properly resolve the issue.

The USB cable for power was also finicky – it wouldn’t work on a USB hub or over an extension cord, only plugged directly into my computer. When I put it on a bench power supply I found that I had to give it 5.2v to get it to come up, it apparently was voltage limited rather than current limited.

There still seems to be a tiny offset in either the optics or the nose cutout, because I can sometimes just glimpse the edge of the right eye view in the left eye. Interestingly, this happens when you are looking to the left with your eye, which moves it a few millimeters to the left, allowing it to look farther over to the right in peripheral vision. This is particularly distracting when the left and right sides of the view are at very different brightness levels. I experimented with different amounts of physical blanking on the lens and leaving a gap in the rendered image, but making the flash of view completely go away required giving up too much resolution. The right solution to this is to have a thin physical divider mounted directly on the display to prevent eye view crosstalk.

I measured the horizontal field of view as a bit under 90 degrees per eye (full binocular overlap), but when you first look through the lenses you clearly feel the edge of the screen on the sides. The vertical field of view is plenty, and you really have to push into the lenses to catch a glimpse of the screen edge. With only 640 pixels horizontally versus 800 vertically per eye and symmetric optics, the vertical FOV is 33% greater than the horizontal, and all of the loss is on the outside edge. I wound up covering the outside parts of the lenses with tape to block off the edges before the optics, which maintains immersion much better than seeing the edge of the screen out at the optical focal plane. This arrangement makes the best use of the limited panel resolution, but it might be better to ignore 160 scan lines and only use 1280 x 640 with a completely symmetric field of view, if that is achievable with available lenses at the same eye spacing.

Interesting commentary from Carmack in the early days of the Oculus Rift. It’s also fascinating to look at Palmer Luckey’s early progress report as he was about to launch a Kickstarter to fund development of the headset. See below for “Oculus ‘Rift’: An open-source HMD for Kickstarter” (April 15, 2012):

Hey guys,

I am making great progress on my HMD kit! All of the hardest stuff (Optics, display panels, and interface hardware) is done, right now I am working on how it actually fits together, and figuring out the best way to make a head mount. It is going to be be out of laser cut sheets of plastic that slide together and fasten with nuts and bolts. The display module is going to be detachable from the optics module, so you will be able to modify, replace, or upgrade your lenses in the future!

The goal is to start a Kickstarter project on June 1st that will end on July 1st, shipping afterwards as soon as possible. I won’t make a penny of profit off this project, the goal is to pay for the costs of parts, manufacturing, shipping, and credit card/Kickstarter fees with about $10 left over for a celebratory pizza and beer. 

I need help, though!

1) I need something that illustrates the difference between low field of view HMDs and high FOV HMDs, probably some kind of graphic illustrating the difference in apparent screen size. Would probably want to compare the rap 1200VR, the HMZ-T1, and the ST1080. Maybe throw in a few professional HMDs like the SX111 for good measure.

2) Logo/s. I am listing the organization as “Oculus”, I plan on using that name on my VR projects from here on out. The HMD itself is tentatively titled “Rift”, if you have better ideas, let me know. I based it on the idea that the HMD creates a rift between the real world and the virtual world, though I have to admit that it is pretty silly. 

3) Ideas for what I should show off in the Kickstarter video.

4) Ideas for Kickstarter rewards. The obvious one would be a full HMD kit, but I want to have some lesser monetary options for people who just want to show support. Laser cut badges? Some kind of software? On the other end, it seems like it would be a good idea to have some more expensive options that net you stuff like a wireless battery/video pack, or a motion tracker.

5) Anything else I am forgetting!

The help is appreciated! Really excited about this, I think it could be the kind of thing that jumpstarts a bigger VR community, and hopefully shows that there is a big demand for wide FOV, truly immersive displays.

Amazing how far VR has come in the past eight years! With Facebook’s launch of the new Oculus Quest 2, the era of “tethered” VR headsets will be coming to an end. Standalone (wireless) HMD’s are clearly the future of the VR ecosystem for 2021 and beyond.

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Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

Facebook and the Future of Virtual Reality

For the past week or so, there has been a great deal of distress in the VR community, after Facebook announced on Aug. 18th that they would begin to require a Facebook account login for all Oculus devices starting in October.

Many VR enthusiasts (at least the vocal ones) have expressed that THIS IS A BAD THING. Facebook already has a nefarious plan to take over the world, steal our private information and identities, and spy on everything we do. Requiring a Facebook login for VR now means that all of this nefariousness will extend into VR. Now everything we do in virtual worlds, games, and media will be tracked and sold for advertising dollars. Our physical movements in VR will allow Facebook to build a biometric profile of each of us, which will risk our identities being impersonated by malicious agents. All of this will result in the downfall of society as we know it.

Exhibit A

Let’s talk about the source of all the hubbub. Up to this point, Oculus users could use a separate Oculus ID (not a Facebook account) to login to Oculus VR headsets (such as the Quest and Rift). This will begin to change in October, when users who purchase a new Oculus device will be required to use their Facebook account to enjoy all the features of the headset. Existing Oculus ID users will need to merge their accounts prior to 2023.

From the Facebook announcement:

Starting in October 2020:

  • Everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account.

  • If you are an existing user and already have an Oculus account, you will have the option to log in with Facebook and merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts.

  • If you are an existing user and choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.

Starting In January 2023:

  • We will end support for Oculus accounts.

  • If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account.

  • We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.

Facebook’s rationale for making this change

Facebook has been up front about their reasons for making this change. If you believe what they are saying, their goal is to improve the user experience and enable the use of upcoming social features such as Facebook Horizon, which will enable connecting to friends and family in VR. Since most Oculus users are also Facebook users, it makes a lot of sense and helps to streamline the management of applications under the Facebook umbrella. The company elaborates on this in their announcement:

Giving people a single way to log into Oculus—using their Facebook account and password— will make it easier to find, connect, and play with friends in VR. We know that social VR has so much more to offer, and this change will make it possible to integrate many of the features people know and love on Facebook. It will also allow us to introduce more Facebook powered multiplayer and social experiences coming soon in VR, like Horizon, where you can explore, play, and create worlds. The majority of our users are already logging into Oculus with a Facebook account to use features like chats, parties, and events, or to tune into live experiences in Oculus Venues. We’re also making it easier to share across our platforms if you’d like. For example, people already have the option to livestream or share their VR experience on Facebook, and soon you’ll be able to use your VR avatar on other Facebook apps and technologies.

When you log in with a Facebook account, you can still create or maintain a unique VR profile. And if you don’t want your Oculus friends to find you by your Facebook name, they won’t—just make it visible to ‘Only Me’ in your Oculus settings. You can also choose what information about your VR activity you post to your Facebook profile or timeline, either by giving permission to post or by updating your settings. And we plan to introduce the ability for multiple users to log into the same device using their own Facebook account, so people can easily share their headset with friends or family while keeping their information separate.

Using a VR profile that is backed by a Facebook account and authentic identity helps us protect our community and makes it possible to offer additional integrity tools. For example, instead of having a separate Oculus Code of Conduct, we will adopt Facebook’s Community Standards as well as a new additional VR-focused policy. This will allow us to continue to take the unique considerations of VR into account while offering a more consistent way to report bad behavior, hold people accountable, and help create a more welcoming environment across our platforms. And as Facebook adds new privacy and safety tools, Oculus can adopt and benefit from them too.

What does this really mean?

Well, it means different things to different people.

Many VR users are already Facebook users, so for most of them it doesn’t matter. They have already sold given their souls to Facebook and probably don’t care if this extends to their identity and behavior in VR. For the average user, it’s probably no big deal.

On the other hand, many VR enthusiasts are also privacy advocates and rightly concerned about Facebook’s history of misleading their user community. For these people, there is good reason to dislike this new development, as it only offers more evidence of Facebook’s dishonesty and tendency to manipulate users for its own gain. When Facebook originally acquired Oculus, they promised that users would never have to login with a Facebook account.

Those in opposition to the use of a Facebook account for VR are concerned about their ability to remain anonymous in VR, to protect their personal information and behavior in VR, and to maintain at least some sense of democracy by having a choice in what information they provide to Facebook.

As Facebook has evolved as a company over the years, the ability for users to manage what information is shared with others has continued to evolve along with it. Most of the time, users have been given the ability to control what information is public vs. private, by updating their profile and content settings. As long as this customization is also allowed in VR, users should be able to maintain their privacy at the level they want.

Facebook and the future of VR

Along with the news about merging user accounts, a few other interesting VR developments occurred at Facebook this week. First of all, the long-running user conference known as Oculus Connect has been renamed to Facebook Connect. In addition, Facebook’s entire VR and AR team has been renamed to Facebook Reality Labs.

Is the Oculus brand going away? Will future Oculus VR headsets be known as “Facebook VR” devices? This appears to be a likely scenario, if not for the immediate future then perhaps within the next few years.

Mark Zuckerberg strongly believes in the future of VR. Facebook has invested a lot of money into its own hardware and software, continues to acquire other developers, and continues to make improvements in its flagship device (the Oculus Quest). Will the next version be called the Facebook Quest? This remains to be seen, as it’s expected to launch before the end of 2020.

When Facebook Horizon finally launches, it will provide a new way for users (yes, only Facebook users) to socialize and play games in VR. Does this mean Facebook wants to own the Metaverse? Will it result in the demise of other social VR platforms like AltSpace, VRChat, and BigScreen?

Perhaps users who prefer not to use their Facebook ID to socialize in VR will flock to these other platforms, assuming the platforms can survive long enough to compete. Or perhaps they will just migrate to another Big Brother, Apple (when they finally launch a VR device and the inevitable need to login with Apple ID.)

Thankfully, there is some good news: VR users will still have the ability to choose which Big Brother they want to sign up with.


Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.


XR for Media Newsfeed – August 23, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

360 Rumors: Supermarket uses consumer 360 camera to shoot viral ad with social distancing

RoadToVR: Facebook Signs Multiyear Deal with NBA, Making Oculus Its Official VR Marketing Partner

VR Focus: Felix & Paul Studios To Create AR Book Of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens

VentureBeat: Apple’s response to Epic threatens the future of VR, AR, TV, and films

Financial Express: NBA onboards Facebook’s Oculus as virtual reality headset partner

ARPost: Ceraadi Teams Up With AmazeVR for a Fall Virtual Reality Concert

VRScout: How Epic Games’ Lawsuit Against Apple Could Impact The Future Of VR/AR

RoadToVR: New Oculus Users Required to Use Facebook Account Starting in October, Existing Users by 2023

UploadVR: Oculus To Introduce Multiple Users Per Device Using Facebook Accounts

UploadVR: Editorial: Facebook’s Quest For World Domination May Have No Real Competition

Forbes: Why This Russian Billionaire Is Creating A Virtual Reality World For Music Festivals And Concerts

Auganix.org: SIGGRAPH 2020 announces its immersive programming, including several Virtual Reality experiences

PR Newswire: AARP Introduces Alcove Virtual Reality App on Oculus Quest to Help Families Stay Connected

The Verge: Facebook is making Oculus’ worst feature unavoidable

Ars Technica: Why the Facebookening of Oculus VR is bad for users, devs, competition

Animation Magazine: Baobab Studios, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ Star Join ‘Paper Birds’ VR from 3DAR, Oculus

Animation Magazine: Eight VR Projects to Compete at Bucheon Animation Fest


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XR for Media Newsfeed – June 27, 2020

Here are this week’s top stories on VR, AR, and MR in the Media industry:

VRScout: National Geographic’s Award-Winning Jane Goodall Exhibit Features Human-Scale Holograms, 3D Immersive Theater

RoadToVR: Hulu is Shutting Down Its VR App on Most Headsets

VRScout: Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley Set To Star In Baobab Studios’ VR Animation ‘Baba Yaga’

Hollywood Reporter: Snapchat Plans AR-Enabled Original Series, Strikes Content Deals With Disney, NBCUniversal

Variety: Cannes XR Virtual: VR, AR Industry Learns to Take a Long Term View

Animation Magazine: 55 Works Presented at Cannes XR Virtual with Strong Animation Presence

VRScout: Facebook Discontinues Oculus Go, Will Allow Even More Apps On Quest

UploadVR: Oculus Go’s Place In VR History Comes Into Focus As Industry Bids Farewell

VRScout: Bigscreen VR Announces Built-In Video Player


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XR for Media Newsfeed – October 19, 2019

Stories this week include more on Avengers: Damage Control at The VOID, the shutdown of Google’s Daydream VR platform, the Mona Lisa in VR, BBC ending its two-year VR experiment, and much more below:

Collider: First Impressions: We’ve Played the ‘Avengers: Damage Control’ VR

Wired: Avengers: Damage Control Pushes VR to New Heights 

Variety: Google Ships Pixel 4 Without Daydream VR Support, Stops Selling Daydream Viewer

Engadget: Google’s Daydream VR experiment is over

Engadget: The (Day)dream is over: Phone-based VR is well and truly dead

UploadVR: The Death Of Daydream Isn’t The Death Of The Dream, VR’s Just Growing Up

New York Times: Meeting the ‘Mona Lisa’ for an Intimate (Virtual) Rendezvous

UploadVR: BBC’s VR Work Will Continue As VR Hub Stops Commissioning + Production

Engadget: BBC winds down its in-house VR production team

Forbes: Can Virtual Reality Capture The Experience Of Being In A Museum?

Variety: AmazeVR Strikes Immersive Content Distribution Deal With Atlas V, Felix & Paul Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

Fortune: Meet the Executive Leading Facebook’s Big Augmented and Virtual Reality Push

a.list: Virtual Reality Marketing In The Time Of Oculus Quest

Motley Fool: AR and VR Are Cool Tech Ideas, but They Are Not Hot Investments

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Roy Kachur is a Media Technologist, IT Architect, and VR Evangelist. He has worked in the information technology field since the 1990’s, and in the media industry since 2014. He believes that VR will play a significant role in the future of media.

YouTube VR App Now Available for Oculus Go Virtual Reality Headset

Previously announced at the Oculus Connect developer conference in September, today the YouTube VR app is officially available for the Oculus Go standalone virtual reality headset.

With today’s launch on Oculus Go, YouTube is now available on all major VR headsets, including Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.

Although the Oculus Go already supports other apps for 360-degree video content, YouTube has been conspicuously absent since the headset was launched in May of this year. Already one of the most popular apps for sharing VR video content, YouTube will be a welcome addition to the Oculus Go platform.


Oculus Co-Founder Quits the Company. What Does This Mean for VR?

Let’s talk about this.

Brendan Iribe, Oculus co-founder and former CEO, has announced that he is leaving Oculus (a division of Facebook) after six years.

TechCrunch reports that his departure is a result of Facebook’s cancellation of the “Rift 2” VR headset, which Iribe’s team had been working on.  This was denied by Facebook, who told Variety that they are continuing plans for a future Rift headset.

With their recent announcement of Oculus Quest (a new standalone, wireless VR headset) has Facebook effectively killed off “tethered” VR devices? With the launch of Oculus Go earlier this year, and now the Quest (planned for next year), the company appears to have re-focused on standalone mobile headsets.

Facebook aims to make VR more accessible and affordable, but killing PC-based VR would severely limit their ability to deliver high-quality content that’s only possible with a powerful PC and graphics processor.

Here is Iribe’s Facebook post announcing his departure.

See below for more on this story from various sources:


Oculus to Invest in Location Based Virtual Reality

According to Variety, Facebook’s VR subsidiary Oculus is looking to invest in location-based VR. They expect that partnerships with out-of-home virtual reality providers will help to sell VR headsets for home users.

Since acquiring Oculus in the spring of 2014, Facebook has focused mainly on development of VR hardware such as the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and Oculus Quest. With this new approach, the company is officially embracing the out-of-home VR market. This is consistent with an overall trend in the VR marketplace, as home usage has still not reached mainstream adoption levels.

Oculus has for some time worked with a few marquee partners in location-based entertainment. Most notably, Disney-backed VR startup the Void has been using modified Oculus headsets for its VR experience centers. Oculus further validated that partnership by inviting the Void to last week’s Oculus Connect conference, where the startup showed off its latest “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire” experience to attendees.

That experience could also be a blueprint for how Oculus is going to approach location-based entertainment: Instead of just offering scaled-down versions of those experiences for users at home, the company may rely on companion pieces to tie in-home and out-of-home VR together.

This is an exciting development for VR overall, as a combination of in-home and out-of-home experiences can only provide more options for customers.

Variety‘s article can be found here.


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