During this event one team was working on product or service that planned to provide a new level of relaxation de-stressing experience via a full visual / audio immersion within a virtual world. A key component to their idea was the use of the latest up-coming technology craze to hit the virtual world industry - the OCULUS RIFT.
So, before I go any further you might be asking yourself : WHAT THE HECK IS THIS OCULUS RIFT ? Well I will tell you all that I am no expert on the "Rift" as I just started hearing about this product and Buzz Term over the past few months. But basically the Rift is a new product from a company called Oculus VR® (VR=Virtual Reality) that provides a stereoscopic video experience to the wearer of the headset.
Additionally, the Rift also has motion sensing technology that allows it to report any head movement in any direction back to an application that has integrated with a Rift device. Applications use this head movement data to change the scene on the Rift's screen so that it looks like when you turn your head in a direction, the scene act accordingly. This would be very similar to you using the mouse or the arrow keys in camera mode within SecondLife® to look around you on a sim - but the Rift knows where you are looking so you don't have use a mouse or arrow keys.
This product is still only released as a developer's kit at $300US to encourage companies/people to integrate the Rift into a new generation of immersion experience products and services. The full consumer version of this product is not expected to be released until some time in 2014 (some say June but maybe later). I was told when the Consumer version releases it will come with a major improvement in screen resolution over the current development version which is quite low resolution.
I will explain a bit further about my NOOB LEVEL of perspective, experience, and knowledge of Rift but if you want to know all the details about the Rift, here is the link to their website:
As you see on the blog images, the Rift is worn very similar to a set of large Ski Goggles. Instead of a ski mask, the Rift has a small mounted screen and special focusing lens placed in front of your eyes. This screen would be not much different than a typical tablet screen - but its placed close to and right in front of your eyes.
This screen and its related hardware and software drivers and any integrated application software (like SecondLife®) work together to present a stereoscopic perspective of what ever images or animation you would normally see on a computer screen.
The owner assisted me in putting the Rift on. Again, it was like putting on a large banded set of ski goggle with obviously more weight in the front than ski goggles but not that noticeable.
I wear corrective glasses to correct near-sightedness and astigmatism, but the Rift had no problem dealing with me wearing glasses. The foam facial pad trim was comfortable and it ensured no outside light would enter.
As soon as I put them on, I was fully visually immersed in the scene. My peripheral vision was enveloped and it really was like I was sitting on a rock at night in front of a fire overlooking a lake. When I looked around in any direction - including up and down - the scene moved fluidly with me. I expected it to hesitate or jitter or jump around as I didn't believe the motion detection would be that accurate.
As I mentioned before, the resolution of the current developer kit Rift is low resolution and I could see the individual pixels if I looked carefully but since this is a developer kit and the Consumer version plans to be released with much higher resolution, this was not a big deal for me. Also, even though the audio was not part of the Rift product, I must say that adding the team's earphones and custom developed audio for the scene just finished it up when it came to immersion. As you can see in the photos, I was in a bright, loud, and busy collage campus atrium but with the Rift and these headphones, I was at a dark starey skied lake by a fire. SOOO COOL!
Of course, while I was there I asked the owner of the Rift if he knew if Linden Lab was going to have a Rift integration. He said that he heard they would and it would be shocking if they didn't as the Rift will be a perfect new immersion tool to take grid users to the next level of realism in SecondLife®,
Fast Forward a couple weeks to December 5th - Guess what "VoidPointer Linden" from Linden Lab openly announced on December 5th during their weekly Beta Server Office Hours meeting?
LL will soon be releasing a beta version viewer that will support the Oculus Rift !!
Here's first mention (note the time stamp) of the discussion in the December 5th transcripts from this Office Hours meeting:
[2013/12/05 15:32] VoidPointer Linden: Adding suport for Oculus Rift is feature-complete and should be released "soon"
And here is the link to the entire transcript so you can read all VoidPointer and the other Lindens had to say about it as well as the questions they answered:
SECONDLIFE Beta Server Office Hours Minutes for 2013-12-05
So basically, Linden Lab is very close to completing a Rift capable SecondLife® viewer - maybe even before the end of the year. Now remember this would be a beta viewer and more importantly you would have to have one of these Development Kit versions of the Rift since the final consumer version of the Rift is still not expected to be released until maybe mid 2014. I wouldn't go out buying a developer kit version with the consumer version coming soon with much better resolution. As initially cool as it would be to see the SL grid via the Rift ASAP, the low resolution would quickly annoy you.
So SL Residents, stay tuned for a lot of excitement related to the SecondLife® inworld experience and the Rift.