Up till now, the Oculus Rift’s prototype didn’t really work for those of us that don’t see right..
But the latest update from the OculusVR camp has revealed the factory pilot process that the first 40 developer kits are being produced on. Particularly pleasing is the news that the Rift will come with two key features, set to make the Rift’s compatability with the visually impaired that much better:
1) The headset now comes with an adjustable assembly, meaning that users can extend and retract the screen’s distance from their eyes. This is good news for people with glasses, and for people with large foreheads. If you’re using either of the shorter eyecups, the lenses will be further away from your eyes. By retracting the assembly, you can bring the lenses closer to your eyes, significantly increasing your field of view.
2) 3 sets of detachable eye cups will mean that users with shortsightedness won’t necessarily have to put their contacts in or violently squint. Here’s how they work:
- If users have perfect vision (or you wear contacts), their vision inside the Rift will match their vision in real life. They’ll use eye cup set A.
- If users are farsighted, they’ll have no vision problems in the Rift because the optics are focused at infinity (which makes their brain think it’s looking at something far away). They’ll also use set A.
- If they’re nearsighted, the additional eye cups, B and C, will allow them to see inside the Rift as if they were wearing glasses. Again, this is because the lens cups change the focal distance. If they’re moderately nearsighted, they’ll use set B. If they’re very nearsighted, they’ll use set C.
Whilst these eye cups are far from perfect, they will provide a more comfortable middle ground for developers that are nearsighted. If users have more serious eye issues like astigmatism, the additional cups will certainly need some help.
The mechanism shown here is on both sides, allowing for assembly adjustment. It should be stressed that these adjustments are for the dev kits only, and that solutions for the consumer version of the Rift are ongoing. These are just a few last-minute additions aimed at making the developers lives a little easier.
The update also shares some fascinating insights into the testing process that the test kits are being put through. To counter the scale, offset, and cross-axis sensitivity errors that are unique to each tracker unit, each one is put through a thorough calibration process at the factory where it’s placed on each of its six orthogonal sides and rotated on a high-speed turntable to test each vector. The calibration produces error correction matrices that are unique to that particular sensor, because like snowflakes, no two Rifts are exactly the same. These matrices are saved and later used to correct for errors when the kit is actually being used. The sensor can also re-calibrate itself to adapt to changes in temperature that would otherwise affect the orientation data.
A small purpose-built steam room has also been built to test the sensor calibration, as each of them needs to be heated up to operational temperatures before they can be accurately put to the test The rigs need to stay perfectly level for accurate calibration as well, which is no mean feat as it requires a surface that is perfectly level at 0.1°.
The factory pilot seems to suggest that the dev kits are still on track to be shipped out in March.
Literally frothing here…