Those of us who watched Star Trek will be familiar with the Holo Deck, and the envy of experiencing things only limited by our collective imaginations. Now, it was first featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation which was set in the year 2360. One can only hope that virtual reality (VR) becomes actual reality long before then; and we are now given hope by an innovative product known as the Oculus Rift.

The Oculus rift is a head-mounted display unit created by Oculus VR, and one hopes that this is the true beginning of a VR revolution. With many previous products claiming to offer an engaging VR experience this one is head and shoulders above the rest. The device responds to 360 degree head movement in every direction effectively allowing us to control the movement of the in-game characters head with the movement of our own.

The device was partially crowd funded through the now famous website kickstarter which is targeted towards encouraging small contributions from a large amount of people, as opposed to traditional capital investment. Due to the unanticipated amount of investment the creators were able to go above and beyond their original design specifications and build something that is considered genuinely immersive by many users and developers. For the time being they have only released a dev kit to help enhance the scope of usability.

However the specifications of the device are something to be appreciated. The devices panel is a 7 inch LCD screen, which is an improvement on the original design and has decreased the effect of motion blur when moving the head. The display also boasts vibrant colours with a depth of 24 bits per pixel. The display is also 3D capable using the stereoscopic technique widely used in modern TVs, with the addition of allowing each eye to see an extra potion of the display to their respective sides. The fact that there is not a 100% overlap on each side of our vision, mimics our real life vision.

An obvious difference between to Oculus Rift and its competitors is the FOV (field of view); the field of view with the Oculus Rift is 110 degrees diagonal – far superior to anything else on the market. It is designed to almost fulfil our natural FOV and create a truly immersive effect with much black space either side of the experienced vision. The current resolution of the device is 1280×800 (16:10 aspect ratio but it expected to be upgraded to 1920×1080 for the final consumer version.

Like most technological advancements the Oculus Rift will surely be adapted for other uses besides gaming, who knows what the future holds for this peice of kit!


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