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Displays Input Devices

30 Minutes Inside Valve's Prototype Virtual Reality Headset 59

Posted by timothy
from the inside-your-head dept.
muterobert writes "Owlchemy Labs, the developers behind the excellent Oculus Rift ready game, Aaaaaaaculus!, share their impressions of their time at Steam Dev Days and detail their experiences using Valve's secretive virtual reality HMD prototype. An excerpt: 'I was told to walk off of the cube and it was physically difficult to step forward into the space where there was no solid footing, even though I knew that there would be a solid floor with a rug right there for me. It's amazing how the mind can trick you.'"
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30 Minutes Inside Valve's Prototype Virtual Reality Headset

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  • Good, looks good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:46AM (#46111321) Homepage Journal

    I got a rift dev kit, and this sounds like a good leap forward on its design. Hopefully the consumer rift and this are both compatible with some sort of core software principals. The last thing the emergent VR economy needs is splintering.

  • So basically... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by korbulon (2792438)
    HL3 confirmed.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    People are going to be hurling left and right for no apparent reason. The first time someone Bon Scott's on this, everyone will be lawyering up.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      People are going to be hurling left and right for no apparent reason.

      Let's hope the youtube servers can handle the extra load.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Or: how involuntary bulimia solved the nation's obesity epidemic. Valve's CEO awarded Nobel prize in medicine. Quoted as saying "bluuuuuuuuuuarg *pant* *pant* blaeearrargh"

    • Someone gave me the first dev kit version of the Rift. It made me motion sick immediately. They're not going to release a consumer version until that stops happening.

      • by gregor-e (136142)
        It should be easy enough to fix. They just need to do what Doom did: add a constant frame around the variable content. Start with just a keyhole of 3D content in the center, then let the user gradually erode away the frame until the user is eventually viewing 100% variable content.
  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dohnut (189348) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:53AM (#46111419)

    I'm coming out with an application called "Solitary Confinement".

    Required hardware will be a VR headset, noise-cancelling headphones, and a typical closet or shower (shower/tubs will not work). You can play single player but it's much more realistic if a friend or family member takes on the role of the warden. I'm integrating it with the steam API and am currently ironing out the achievements.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheLink (130905)

      Someone should also come out with an app/UI that allowed people to have as many and as large virtual displays as they want, and manage them easily (gestures or hotkeys or whatever).

      Then you won't need multiple large physical monitors.

      Future versions might have cameras or special optics so that you can do augmented reality or just fade in and out of full virtual reality.

      Maybe Microsoft will get off their "Metro" butts and do something about it. Same goes for GNOME, KDE etc.

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      I can't wait for nasalus rift and labalus rift to come out so we can get the full waterboarding experience.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Sounds like it would be nice for relaxation. Maybe solitary confinement simulator would be a bit much, but I seriously think that VR could have some really nice uses outside gaming. Just put on a headset, and you're lying on a beach. Great way to relax. My kids never understand why I'm so happy when they send me on a time-out.
    • by Jeremi (14640)

      I'm coming out with an application called "Solitary Confinement". Required hardware will be a VR headset, noise-cancelling headphones, and a typical closet or shower (shower/tubs will not work).

      I think this would be really popular with parents of small children.

  • Familiarity counts? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    An excerpt: 'I was told to walk off of the cube and it was physically difficult to step forward into the space where there was no solid footing, even though I knew that there would be a solid floor with a rug right there for me. It's amazing how the mind can trick you.'

    Given the game in question is just an Oculus Rift version of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAA!!!!!, clearly the person testing it is not experienced in the game. As any veteran of it knows, the whole point of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAA!!!!! is to happily take running leaps off of cubes.

    Though this does make me wonder if people who are used to the game already would have the same apprehension over jumping off the (to them) familiar-looking buildings they've jumped off hundreds of times before...

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:10PM (#46111579)

      An excerpt: 'I was told to walk off of the cube and it was physically difficult to step forward into the space where there was no solid footing, even though I knew that there would be a solid floor with a rug right there for me. It's amazing how the mind can trick you.'

      Given the game in question is just an Oculus Rift version of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAA!!!!!, clearly the person testing it is not experienced in the game. As any veteran of it knows, the whole point of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAA!!!!! is to happily take running leaps off of cubes.

      Though this does make me wonder if people who are used to the game already would have the same apprehension over jumping off the (to them) familiar-looking buildings they've jumped off hundreds of times before...

      The point in AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAA!!!!! is to walk off the cube in the game, i.e. using the game controls. The difficulty the user here had was stepping forward in real life while wearing the headset that made it look like he would be physically stepping off a cube (even though he knew he wouldn't).

      It actually brings up an interesting point about VR/AR: mixing the real world (where there is a physical floor ahead of you) with the virtual one (where it appears there isn't), and overcoming the self-preservation instinct by stepping forwards anyways could potentially lead to the self-preservation instinct being dangerously suppressed over time. With current video games, it's easy to know the difference between the real and virtual world. But with VR, specially VR that replicates physical actions into the game world (so that stepping forward in the game involves stepping forward in real life, not just pressing a key), that line may well become significantly blurred to the point where video games might actually have harmful effects (in this case, suppressing the instinct to not step off buildings).

      • It actually brings up an interesting point about VR/AR: mixing the real world (where there is a physical floor ahead of you) with the virtual one (where it appears there isn't), and overcoming the self-preservation instinct by stepping forwards anyways could potentially lead to the self-preservation instinct being dangerously suppressed over time.

        Aw, that's just stupid!

        If it were true, then one could claim it's equally dangerous to, say, text and walk down the sidewalk. Yet here I am, face buried in a device and moving forward, but there's no way I would be so immersed that I might do something as dumb as step out in front of a b!@#$@#%!% CARRIER LOST

      • by gsslay (807818)

        Pretty much what I was thinking.

        As virtual reality becomes ever closer to reality, in terms of image/sound/immersion quality, the time will come when people die doing things in real life, under the temporary mistaken belief they are in game.

        It's not unreasonable to suggest that VR may actually have to be degraded/compromised in order that people can always differentiate between them.

        • This is problem that will most likely take many by surprise.

          Psychologically. There is a threshold point where immersion in an alternate reality for a particular ratio of time over the really real world causes the brain to switch over into believing the other reality is the real one. This crossover point is not totally predictable and varies person to person.
          Those who play for several hours a day. Day after day. Or have a naturally weak grip on reality being particularly high risk.

          I'd imagine after the first

      • by ZackSchil (560462)

        Hasn't every major entertainment medium ever raised this concern? It hasn't happened yet and I doubt it ever will. I'm sure that people will not have any trouble separating reality from VR fantasy.

      • by Xelios (822510)
        On the other hand I can see this becoming very useful for overcoming fears or certain types of neurological disorders. We recently put together a training program for a clinical trial with Parkinson's patients who experience "freeze of gait" [wikipedia.org]. Certain situations (like walking through a narrow doorway) can cause them to become locked in place in a sort of trance until some external stimulus snaps them out of it again. The idea was to train these situations from the safety of their own home in order to better
      • But with VR, specially VR that replicates physical actions into the game world (so that stepping forward in the game involves stepping forward in real life, not just pressing a key), that line may well become significantly blurred to the point where video games might actually have harmful effects (in this case, suppressing the instinct to not step off buildings).

        This is a really interesting idea that is addressed in the David Cronenberg film eXistenZ [imdb.com]. The film is about a virtual reality game designer on the run from a "realist underground" and deliberately plays with tropes about gaming and film watching. In a lot of ways it is to video games what Videodrome is to television.

    • by daenris (892027)
      I can't tell if you're trying to be funny or not. The person reporting on his experiences is one of the developers of Aaaaaculus! [owlchemylabs.com] which is essentially an Oculus compatible version of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!. In addition, they've worked on several sequels [dejobaan.com] and ports [dejobaan.com] of that game with the original developers.
  • by xtal (49134) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:07PM (#46111555)

    Someone needs to get these on the market; it's been two decades since the promise was there; now we have photo realistic rendering and very high DPI screens, and dirt cheap high accuracy sensing.

    I'm not sure exactly what the holdup is - but someone, be it Valve, or Occulus - release one of these already?

    • >I'm not sure exactly what the holdup is - but someone, be it Valve, or Occulus - release one of these already?

      Latency. The slight delay between head-movement and game-response makes people vomit. Releasing the product before it's ready would set VR back years when most people hate it.
      • by xtal (49134)

        Technologies exist and are available to fix the latency issue.. ship something..

        • If you have that technology, what's stopping you from shipping something? You're obviously way ahead of the people actually developing these displays, who are still struggling with the latency problem.
          • by xtal (49134)

            They're being cheap.There are high-end HMDs already.

            I'd drop serious coin on one but what they are promising is integration with games. That's what's always been missing.

            They should take some of my money and make it less expensive.. in revision 2.

    • by Junta (36770)

      we have photo realistic rendering

      No we don't. We have pretty good rendering, but it is not photo realistic. Show anyone a photograph and a game engine attempt to recreate the scene and there is no engine that could fool anyone right now. But that's not so critical.

      very high DPI screens

      Very much true for everything *except* strapping it to your head and magnifying the display. Again, we are certainly in the 'good enough to make a go of it' realm.

      dirt cheap high accuracy sensing.

      Actually, we didn't (well, not at the requisite latency) and that is really the vast majority of Oculus effort wa

    • by jasno (124830)

      The limiting factor is the hardware. We can actually build a really nice VR display now, but the price would be too high for mass adoption so it's not being done. Once the component prices drop, I expect you'll see VR displays from a host of manufacturers. The tech really isn't all that special and the patents probably all expired by now. I really think Oculus will be the TiVo of VR displays - a pioneer that will fade from the limelight when the technology goes mainstream(except I think TiVo brought mor

  • Why aren't you taking my money fast enough?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      VR porn really needs sensory feedback, a good VR visual experience doesn't really bring much over watching it on a flat screen. You need to feel that virtual blowjob.

      • I went to the AVN porn convention last week. A friend of mine owns a company that is addressing this market need. It works with both recorded video and live webcam shows.

        I call it "Teddy Ruxpin for your dick".

  • There is no cube, Neo.

  • HeadCrab 2.0
  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:46PM (#46111979)

    I've been experimenting with using the Kinect for body positioning - allowing you to walk around a virtual room by walking around a real one. There are two big problems: First, the fidelity of the Kinect isn't great, so positioning is a bit inaccurate and gets jumpy with distance. Second, I had to make a cord bundle extension to give me room to walk about and you're always worried about tripping over it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fix the cord tripping problem by hanging the cord from the ceiling.

  • Add the tech they use to create this Battlefield 3 simulator [youtube.com] and swap their projectors for a rift and I think I might have a good reason to clear out the toolshed and remortgage the house, doubt the wife would appreciate the expense though.
  • Consider I plug in a variation of this VR unit into the VGA port, and a USB port for mouse/keyboard commands. Why do I need a Marox interface card? I turn my head left, I see stuff, I turn my right and I see different stuff; the same for up and down.

    Has anyone considered hooking up a VR unit to a self driving Toyota Prius?
  • to the fact that there is something there even though you cant see it, VR has been around for decades, inexpensive and quite good consumer models have been around since the late 90's. Can we get a report from someone who isnt wowed by their first 5 min with one strapped to their face, or would that break the hype

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