Oculus Rift and Industrial Design

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset launched yesterday and I wanted to see if anyone else has been following along with VR over the last few years. What do you think of the Industrial Design of the Rift?

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed seeing transformation of the Oculus prototypes from engineering development tools into a refined product with a heavy focus on ergonomics and design. Specifically, the spring loaded semi-rigid velcro adjustable harness that mimics the experience of putting on a hat, and use of fabric around the display portion to reduce weight and allows IR tracking led’s to shine through without visual clutter.

Seeing it come to life has been a joy, huge congrats to the team!

I got my pre order in 6 minutes after launch, so hopefully I’ll be unboxing mine soon.

I thought I had ordered the original DK1 on Kickstarter but apparently I hadn’t…those folks got a great deal (in getting one for free).

It seems like they’ve done a good job of focusing on whats important while still being able to enable what is important - can’t wait to try out the production version, the DK2 still left a lot to be desired.

Well done! I didn’t get mine in until 15 minutes after the preorder launch so I’m slated for April (so three days right?).

I only tried the DK1 for 5 minutes before so I’m guessing this consumer version will be a significant improvement.

I read a couple good pieces in Wired on the design process of these ‘goggles’ (is that the right word). Those articles also included some background on how an industrial design group became part of Facebook. The guys from Carbon (previously Lakeside Product Development) really know their subject matter well (game controllers, medical wearables, challenging electronics packaging). I’m curious to see one of these units in real life, I bet its finished really well. The OOBE is supposed to be nice as well.

I know I’m a complete luddite, but haven’t we been down this road before?

The ID seems OK, but it’s such an awkward product.

The difference is what it offers.

Virtual boy was some polygon red lines floating in space and a MASSIVE and heavy headset (which is why it came with it’s own stand).

The Oculus is lightweight (think Ski Goggles) and once you actually experience you will not care how big of a dork you seem, because it’s amazing. Unfortunately, no amount of Engadget articles, or Wired interviews can prepare you for how good the experience is until you actually feel present in a virtual space and your head explodes.

I’ve played with the Samsung gear thing. It is pretty incredible. I didn’t personally like it much, but no denying it was very cool. Generationally, I’m sure Gen X and Y will be split on it, but the generation after them will probably adapt quickly to and come to expect these super immersive experiences. Virtual Boy was a cool toy, this is a bit different, it goes beyond games and points toward augmented reality and virtual reality experiences.

I’m not saying it is good or bad. Just that the tech has gotten to the point where I think it will gain traction. If it does gain mass acceptance in the next decade there will be some serious issues with it culturally in terms of people who hate it so much they deny themselves some cool experiences and people who love it so much they have addiction issues… normal human stuff.

Well, they say that pr0n has always driven technology. It seems that VR has reached the pr0n tipping point.

I have the first generation. It is sitting on my developers desk collecting dust. Motion sickness is a huge barrier.

It will be interesting to see what industries, if any, this technology may disrupt. Until the tech becomes as invisible and accepted as a pair of sunglasses (with according flexibility in use e.g. walking around outdoors) it seems destined to be a cool gaming/interactivity toy or experience like how a Kinect can be used.

I have personal opinions about it (hint - not in favor but haven’t yet tried it so…) - but mostly I’m anticipating what kind of repetitive/continued use problems will come up, along with addiction. Ophthalmologists are probably rubbing their hands gleefully awaiting a huge new generation of patients.

for what it’s worth i think the oculus is the least attractive design of the bunch…i understand how it is attractive as a concept with the diy beginnings, but it seemed a bit weird to me that so many big players were developing consumer versions? i had a co-worker that was super into the whole oculus experience (speaking of design & eyesight, it came with a few different cumbersome to change out lenses to accommodate for different sightedness-es, an adjustable diopter seems like a better solution around that, but that was the early version), almost evangelical about it…they had the dev kits 1 & 2, would bring in to work to let people experience it and already has the bid in for the consumer version; so i got to see/use on a couple of occasions…and while it was/is pretty cool i don’t really see the individual consumer application for it yet? i guess everyone has to start in on it but it just doesn’t seem like it is close to being even a niche thing…there are some interesting use cases for it as a business tool though(virtual education/training?, nursing homes, treatments for ptsd, 3d creation tool?-imagine the replay value of films made for vr, every replay could potentially be different!)

as a consumer device for video games, it seems to have a limited utility for an already niche audience? while not exactly the same thing , it shares the same problem that the nintendo wii, playstation move, and the xbox kinect all had…they all were cool but didn’t really have a must have game, nor in the case of playstation & xbox were marquee games built to make use of them, mostly they were optional or unnecessary to those games, and it seems like the big game developers will be put in the same situation for vr, while vr is probably less involved than those other technologies it still seems unlikely that it will be easy to build games that work equally well for both non vr- & vr gamers for the same game?

fundamentally i think home videogames are (or at least to this point have been) a passive medium, i tend to think those that want to “plug in” and be immersed matrix/total recall style are the minority, this could be my biases showing as i never could get into 1st person style games, but the idea of having to mentally prepare for the vr experience when i want to play a game seems daunting…

Bingo… nerds+p0rn=it’s gonna happen.

Look at the adoption curve of the internet!

Military → Nerds → P0rn → Everything else


Go find somewhere to try it. That way you can have a more informed option. Personally I didn’t like it much either, but I could immediately see how others would… and if the next Star Wars comes out in VR where you can change the camera angle by turning your head or something… game over.

Can’t wait for Oculus Airlines. Every passenger is handed one as they board. No need for privacy screens/walls, individual screens or tablet holders…genius. Everybody can chose to watch something or fall asleep with them on. No tray or anything else, that way they can fit more people like sardines…

Gotta try one.

A couple of things to throw in based on the comments:

-The Gear VR is a neat experience - especially for simple tasks like playback of movies. But it in no way captures the same experience due to the lack of good positional tracking (you can lean over and look at an object like you can with the Oculus, and it does not have the GPU power to drive the same resolution and detailed experience) - think SD vs HD and then some.

-The Kinect is a bad example of comparison. There was no real “Wow” to the Kinect experience. It had shitty games, shitty “hold your arm up in the air until it hurts and wave to replicate the functionality of a controller”. It was simply trying to replace controller experience with motion experiences, and it never did a good job at that - at the end of the day the experience of what you were playing was generally the same.

-The early hardware also isn’t good for comparison, especially the DK1 which was super low resolution, had very early SDK’s without the same level of development that they currently have, and improper IPD (inter-pupillary distance) adjustment which would make you very sick very easily if it was not correctly calibrated. The current devices uses to adjustable displays to properly correct for that (Even the DK2 had this problem).

And regarding killer apps - that’s absolutely true - no one made a “killer” app for the Kinect. But Minecraft is coming to VR and that alone will sell millions of copies. Say goodbye to your children.

VR is an amazing experience for racing games, flight simulators, space flight, let alone the immersive nature of 3D movies. Until you’ve been literally transported to the middle of a forest you can’t realize how impactful that truly is. This will be a new medium for creating art and immersive experiences that to date, only folks like Disney have tried to crack, and now it will happen in your living room instead of a theme park.

More exciting, is this is just Generation 0. The future will improve a large number of the other issues like full body tracking, full body scanning, motion and gesture control, and most importantly, eventually cutting the cord that ties you to a box.

And yes, watching whatever you want on an airplane simulating a 100’ screen will be way better than trying to watch a movie on a 4" blurry SD headrest.

I liked the idea of playing FPS games in VR as a way of exercising by getting you to stand up and move around a bit. I can imagine it will just end up being something you use instead of a monitor though. Rather than get a massive monitor you would just sit at your desk staring at the wall and seperate out the mouse function where you use the mouse to aim and shoot but use your head to look around.

I think I saw somewhere the other day an article about using them to replace rollercoasters where people sat in a suspended cart moved around by hydraulics. Pretty cool getting the effect of a roller coaster without the cost and space of building one. The environments could become so much more immersive.

I saw one where they combined the VR with the roller coaster. So you were actually on a rollercoaster, but the VR goggle made it seem like you were in outer space… of course Space Mountain did that like 50 years ago with dark lights and projections. :slight_smile:

  1. I feel like it is bad spunk shui to cover your eyes while watching pr0n

  2. I think the Samsung looks cooler.

I like the color break. I supposed the strap on top makes the Oculus design more stable, but I think the single strap on the Samsung makes it look less brutal.

  1. My point with the Virtual Boy is that this technology doesn’t seem that revolutionary to me. More an evolution of what was already possible. As such, my thinking goes immediately to was the technology not adopted earlier because of lack of applications or lack of image quality/refresh rates, etc.

The difference between the gear and the Oculus (that may not be clear) is that the triangular section on the back of the Rift is actually electronics. There are Infared LED’s that surround your head allowing the camera (which sits in front of the user) to track the position of your head. This way you can track not only the rotation, but also the subtle positional changes. It makes for a big difference in the way you interact with it. When the DK2 came out I jumped into a racing game (Assetto Corsa) and I wasn’t just racing around the track, I was sitting at the starting line leaning over to admire the stitching that was on the shift knob of my Fiat 500, I was looking through the corner of the window the way I would in a real car following the apex of the corner, by the time I got to the top of the hill I was a little dizzy, not because of the VR but because I had just shredded up an endless amount of switchbacks in the Italian alps (for the record - I also get motion sick on the race track - so I don’t chalk that up to simulator sickness - I’ve played space simulators for hours with no problems)

Is it revolutionary? - It suppose it depends on your perspective. From a purely technology perspective the iPhone was not revolutionary. It took a combination of existing smart phone technology, threw a new touch screen on it and eventually added the ability for people to make “applications” easy.

But did it revolutionize the way we use everything from the internet to our daily lives? Absolutely.

Again, it’s not just about the technology, it’s about a cultural shift and willingness to embrace it as a platform - and that has never happened before, even though people have been playing with stereo displays and 3D graphics in labs for decades (anybody remember the CAVE?).

The Oculus and Gear VR are just part of the solution. Notice how Gopro and other camera manufacturers are now focusing their effort on cameras that can capture 3D? Leap Motion has restructured their entire business to focus on being an application for hand capture in VR.

And this isn’t just going to be about games. As designers we should be excited for the fact that we spend half our days drawing and sculpting 3D objects on a tiny 2D window. The future in which we create things can be fundamentally different, and that transition is going to open some pretty amazing opportunities.

The Leap Motion home screen video does a nice job of synthesizing a lot of those thoughts - VR + natural hand interaction + endless possibilities.

Yeah totally agree! An easy way to give VR a try is to get a Google Cardboard headset. I think the second version with bigger lenses is definitely worth the $20 from Amazon. Both Apple and Android devices have a bunch of free VR experiences worth taking a look at.

There was actually some short 3D 360 Star Wars videos that are up for promoting The Force Awakens on mobile devices. They weren’t very high resolution but were fun to check out for free. They actually just had a really cool Star Wars VR demo at GDC a couple weeks ago, you can check out here.

Imagine wielding a lightsaber in VR and hearing the hum of the lightsaber in 3D audio as you move it, childhood dream stuff right there!

Roger that, I am looking forward to it. The Force Awakens in a first-person POV would be un-fkn-believable.

My personal opinions will be more informed but unlikely to substantially change. As with parenting in the age of iPads, there are novel and sometimes edifying experiences to negotiate with new technology, but the question posed to parents is “at the expense of what?” Meaning, screen time (TV, VCR, iPad, VR headset) is often preferred by kids over “doing something else”, like simply being bored and using one’s imagination, or going outside and actually moving your body. So - I guess I have principles about stuff like this, but wouldn’t be worth a damn as a designer if I wasn’t curious about new gadgetry and open to trying new experiences.

TL;DR - every augmentation is also an amputation.