Out of this world


Rift be­comes con­sumer-ready, Half Moon and Vive ad­dress con­trol is­sues, and RIGS de­fies the rules: VR moves for­ward

The rate of tech­no­log­i­cal change within the field of vir­tual re­al­ity right now is dizzy­ing, a tor­rent of in­no­va­tions and com­peti­tors rush­ing in to claim a share of the emerg­ing mar­ket. Most re­cently, HTC and Valve snaf­fled up at­ten­tion and col­umn inches with their as­ton­ish­ing Vive pro­to­type, but Ocu­lus has just re­sponded in kind with its re­tail-ready CV1.

The new head­set re­tains a fa­mil­iar form, but makes the DK1 model and its screen-door dis­play look ar­chaic by com­par­i­son. The CV1 unit’s clean lines are ap­peal­ingly tidy, and the re­designed, par­tially rub­berised strap is far more so­phis­ti­cated than the har­nesses that adorned its pre­de­ces­sors. The dif­fer­ence is in­stantly ob­vi­ous when you put the unit on, sur­pris­ing with its light­ness and com­fort. The head­set has re­mov­able head­phones, a res­o­lu­tion of 2160x1200 and makes use of Ocu­lus’s Con­stel­la­tion po­si­tional track­ing sys­tem. The re­sult is a de­vice that feels so nat­u­ral, you can al­most for­get it’s there. Head track­ing feels one-to-one, and we feel no nau­sea or dis­ori­en­ta­tion dur­ing our time with it.

All of this does much to rec­om­mend the de­vice, which will go on sale bun­dled with an Xbox 360 pad at some point in the first quar­ter of next year. But when it’s com­bined with Ocu­lus Touch con­trollers, the ex­pe­ri­ence is rev­e­la­tory. Func­tion­ing in a sim­i­lar way to Vive’s con­trollers, the Half Moon pro­to­types we try are tracked by the Con­stel­la­tion sys­tem and pro­vide all man­ner of op­tions for in­ter­act­ing di­rectly with a vir­tual world.

Af­ter suit­ing up, the Toy­box demo be­gins with us stand­ing in front of a ta­ble cov­ered in ob­jects, in­clud­ing build­ing bricks, toy tanks, robots, and some ta­ble ten­nis pad­dles. Our vir­tual hands glow

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