[FoRK] [tt] VR: Oculus Rift dev kit post date postponed
eugen at leitl.org
Thu Nov 29 02:54:19 PST 2012
Update on Developer Kit Technology, Shipping Details
November 28, 2012 - 06:38 PST
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in August, we hoped to sell a few
hundred kits to game developers and virtual reality enthusiasts around the
world. Instead, we were blown away by the overwhelming response from a
community of almost 10,000 backers, who raised nearly $2.5 million dollars to
help us develop the Oculus Rift.
Designing, sourcing, and manufacturing thousands of developer kits is no
small feat. Since our Kickstarter, we’ve been up against the wall, working
around the clock to produce and distribute over 7,500 units in just 4 short,
crazy months. We’ve had to modify our original design for mass-manufacturing
and, at the same time, balance additional features with our tight schedule.
We wanted to have the developer kits to all our backers before the holidays;
but more than that, we want to ship the best Oculus Rift developer kit
possible. In order to accommodate the required changes, new features, and
manufacturing duration, we had to shift our ship date.
We’re happy to be able to finally announce that the Oculus Rift developer
kits will begin shipping in March 2013.
We want to thank everyone for their patience and support. Know that we’re
pouring our hearts into this project.
We’d like to share a few details about why we’ve pushed the estimated
delivery and what we’ve done behind the scenes to improve the Rift since our
Kickstarter’s launch. Manufacturing 7,500 Developer Kits
The majority of the remaining work is now in the hands of our manufacturer,
who’s currently making the injection mold tooling used to create the Rift’s
plastic shell (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injection_molding if you’re
interested in learning more). We waited to make an official announcement
until we had a firm schedule from our manufacturer.
Here’s the latest timeline, as of Nov. 27:
Larger version of chart available here
All together, preparing the factory for mass production of a product like the
Rift takes approximately 90 days and the factory can’t begin until design and
feature set has been locked down. Our manufacturer is already underway with
the first tooling (T1), which takes roughly 50-70 days. Once the primary
tooling is complete, we’ll do a series of pilot runs for minor tweaks and
adjustments before mass production. Simultaneously, we’ll be testing and
certifying the device for public use.
If you’re interested in learning more about why tooling a plastic product
like the Rift can take up to 70 days, check out this 5 minute video from the
Discovery Channel on how plastic injection molds are made: “How It’s Made:
Injection Molds”. Once the tooling has been finalized and the factory is
full throttle with production, we’ll be able to produce over 500 developer
kits each day. We’re looking forward to having that sort of volume rolling
out to the developers everywhere.
We’ll be shipping out the developer kits in the same order as the Kickstarter
pledges were received (first come, first served). Based on this current
schedule, the goal is to ship the majority of the rewards by mid-March. We
may not have all 7,500 kits in the first shipment, but we’ll continue
shipping out kits as soon as they arrive. We’re estimating that we can have
all the rewards sent out by mid-April. Any pre-orders taken post-Kickstarter
(through www.oculusvr.com/preorder/) are expected to ship in late April 2013,
after we’ve delivered all the Kickstarter rewards.
Once we’ve put your rewards in the mail, US residents should expect to
receive them within 5-7 business days and international backers should
receive theirs in 2-3 weeks, depending on the destination. Finding the Right
One of the toughest challenges was finding the right display for mass
production. Many of you already know that the Oculus Rift prototypes we’ve
been showing use a 5.6’’ LCD. While not perfect, it’s been sufficient for
early research and development, including the work John Carmack did with DOOM
3: BFG Edition. Unfortunately, production of that display was recently
discontinued, a fact we learned after trying to source (buy in bulk) enough
to meet the incredible response from the developer community.
When we set out to find a new display, there were a number of key factors to
consider for the best experience. The ideal screen would have a refresh rate
of least 60hz, a resolution of 720p or better, a low response time, and a
viewing area between 5.5’’ and 7’’ diagonally.
We tested every available (non-proprietary) display we could get our hands
on. Surprisingly, there aren’t many available screens in a 5.5’’ – 7’’ form
factor that meet our requirements.
Ultimately, we selected a modern, 1280×800 7’’ display for the developer kit.
The bright side is that the new display beats the old display in almost every
key area including response time, switching time, contrast, and color
quality. The improved switching time of the panel actually alleviates most of
the motion blur people saw in earlier prototype demos. The downside to our
new 7’’ is the weight differential: approximately 30g more than the 5.6’’. A
New Sensor Designed for VR
The original Oculus Rift prototypes used an off-the-shelf sensor from one of
the leading sensor vendors in the country. While the original sensor was high
quality, we made the decision to develop our own 9DOF motion sensor that
excels in VR-critical areas. These new sensors should be part of the
developer kits shipping in March.
The new Oculus sensor supports a refresh rate of up to 1000hz, which is
several times faster than the previous sensor. In addition to the
accelerometer and gyroscope, it also includes a magnetometer, which opens new
doors in terms of sensor data and head-tracking. The data coming from the new
sensor will be accessible using the Oculus SDK in easy to manipulate formats
(quaternion, matrix, Euler angles). The raw sensor data is also available for
those that want to do the math themselves.
Building a new motion sensor is a major undertaking. There are plenty of
challenges we’re working on, particularly sensor calibration and
multi-platform driver development, but we’re confident the new sensor will be
worth the engineering effort in the long run and we’re happy with the results
thus far. Latest Working Prototypes from Factory
This is a fully functional prototype of the Rift developer kit. The cable
shown here is similar in width and weight to the actual 6ft custom cable used
for the developer kits, which was designed specifically for the Rift.
Here’s a snapshot of the latest control box model for the headset. This
little guy combines the video, USB, and power lines into the single, custom
cable running to the headset. This helps reduce weight and extra cabling from
Please understand that the designs above are subject to change; though you
can expect these to be very close to the final versions. 3D Engine
The Unreal Engine 3 and Unity integrations are coming together well. The
Unreal integration is in a completely playable/usable state, including the
Unreal Tournament 3 sample game which is now a great Oculus-ready example for
The Unity integration is getting underway with the latest Oculus SDK
codebase. We’ll post another update in the near future with footage of Oculus
VR inside Unity.
We’re working closely with Epic and Unity on integrating support for the
Oculus Rift in the free versions of their engines and will keep the community
posted on the progress.
Oculus Developer Center Coming
We’re in the process of bringing the Oculus Developer Center online. The
Developer Center will have the latest Oculus SDK, engine integrations,
official forums, support system, and ways to send hardware/software feedback
directly to the Oculus engineering team.
All developers will be invited to join the Developer Center and start
discussing Rift development before the kits begin shipping. Developer Kits,
Consumer Rifts, and Virtual Reality
We’re planning a handful of Kickstarter updates dedicated to more detailed
information regarding the sensor, the screen, the display controller, and the
headset itself. These should be posted over the next few weeks.
Plans for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift are already underway. Due
to time constraints for the developer kit, we had to push several exciting
features to the consumer version. We’ll continue to keep everyone posted on
our progress as we move from research and development into confirmed
We’re also counting on you, the community, to help us shape the future of VR
and the Oculus Rift. We hope you’re as excited as we are!
Palmer and the Oculus team
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