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Developer kit for the Oculus Rift - the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
Developer kit for the Oculus Rift - the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
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9,522 backers pledged $2,437,429 to help bring this project to life.

Update on Oculus Technology, Shipping Details

When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in August, we hoped to sell a few hundred kits to game developers and virtual reality enthusiasts around the world. Instead, we were blown away by the overwhelming response from a community of almost 10,000 backers, who raised nearly $2.5 million dollars to help us develop the Oculus Rift.

Designing, sourcing, and manufacturing thousands of developer kits is no small feat. Since our Kickstarter, we’ve been up against the wall, working around the clock to produce and distribute over 7,500 units in just 4 short, crazy months. We’ve had to modify our original design for mass-manufacturing and, at the same time, balance additional features with our tight schedule.

We wanted to have the developer kits to all our backers before the holidays; but more than that, we want to ship the best Oculus Rift developer kit possible. In order to accommodate the required changes, new features, and manufacturing duration, we had to shift our ship date.

We’re happy to be able to finally announce that the Oculus Rift developer kits will begin shipping in March 2013.

We want to thank everyone for their patience and support. Know that we’re pouring our hearts into this project.

We’d like to share a few details about why we’ve pushed the estimated delivery and what we’ve done behind the scenes to improve the Rift since our Kickstarter’s launch.

Manufacturing 7,500 Developer Kits

The majority of the remaining work is now in the hands of our manufacturer, who’s currently making the injection mold tooling used to create the Rift's plastic shell (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injection_molding if you’re interested in learning more). We waited to make an official announcement until we had a firm schedule from our manufacturer.

Here’s the latest timeline, as of Nov. 27:

Larger version of chart available here.

All together, preparing the factory for mass production of a product like the Rift takes approximately 90 days and the factory can’t begin until design and feature set has been locked down. Our manufacturer is already underway with the first tooling (T1), which takes roughly 50-70 days. Once the primary tooling is complete, we’ll do a series of pilot runs for minor tweaks and adjustments before mass production. Simultaneously, we’ll be testing and certifying the device for public use.

If you’re interested in learning more about why tooling a plastic product like the Rift can take up to 70 days, check out this 5 minute video from the Discovery Channel on how plastic injection molds are made: “How It’s Made: Injection Molds”.

Once the tooling has been finalized and the factory is full throttle with production, we’ll be able to produce over 500 developer kits each day. We’re looking forward to having that sort of volume rolling out to the developers everywhere.

We’ll be shipping out the developer kits in the same order as the Kickstarter pledges were received (first come, first served). Based on this current schedule, the goal is to ship the majority of the rewards by mid-March. We may not have all 7,500 kits in the first shipment, but we’ll continue shipping out kits as soon as they arrive. We’re estimating that we can have all the rewards sent out by mid-April. Any pre-orders taken post-Kickstarter (through www.oculusvr.com/preorder/) are expected to ship in late April 2013, after we’ve delivered all the Kickstarter rewards.

Once we’ve put your rewards in the mail, US residents should expect to receive them within 5-7 business days and international backers should receive theirs in 2-3 weeks, depending on the destination.

Finding the Right Display

One of the toughest challenges was finding the right display for mass production. Many of you already know that the Oculus Rift prototypes we’ve been showing use a 5.6’’ LCD. While not perfect, it’s been sufficient for early research and development, including the work John Carmack did with DOOM 3: BFG Edition. Unfortunately, production of that display was recently discontinued, a fact we learned after trying to source (buy in bulk) enough to meet the incredible response from the developer community.

When we set out to find a new display, there were a number of key factors to consider for the best experience. The ideal screen would have a refresh rate of least 60hz, a resolution of 720p or better, a low response time, and a viewing area between 5.5’’ and 7’’ diagonally.

We tested every available (non-proprietary) display we could get our hands on. Surprisingly, there aren’t many available screens in a 5.5’’ – 7’’ form factor that meet our requirements.

Ultimately, we selected a modern, 1280x800 7’’ display for the developer kit. The bright side is that the new display beats the old display in almost every key area including response time, switching time, contrast, and color quality. The improved switching time of the panel actually alleviates most of the motion blur people saw in earlier prototype demos. The downside to our new 7’’ is the weight differential: approximately 30g more than the 5.6’’.

A New Sensor Designed for VR

The original Oculus Rift prototypes used an off-the-shelf sensor from one of the leading sensor vendors in the country. While the original sensor was high quality, we made the decision to develop our own 9DOF motion sensor that excels in VR-critical areas. These new sensors should be part of the developer kits shipping in March.

The new Oculus sensor supports a refresh rate of up to 1000hz, which is several times faster than the previous sensor. In addition to the accelerometer and gyroscope, it also includes a magnetometer, which opens new doors in terms of sensor data and head-tracking. The data coming from the new sensor will be accessible using the Oculus SDK in easy to manipulate formats (quaternion, matrix, Euler angles). The raw sensor data is also available for those that want to do the math themselves.

Building a new motion sensor is a major undertaking. There are plenty of challenges we’re working on, particularly sensor calibration and multi-platform driver development, but we’re confident the new sensor will be worth the engineering effort in the long run and we’re happy with the results thus far.

Latest Working Prototypes from Factory

This is a fully functional prototype of the Rift developer kit. The cable shown here is similar in width and weight to the actual 6ft custom cable used for the developer kits, which was designed specifically for the Rift.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest control box model for the headset. This little guy combines the video, USB, and power lines into the single, custom cable running to the headset. This helps reduce weight and extra cabling from the Rift.

Please understand that the designs above are subject to change; though you can expect these to be very close to the final versions.

3D Engine Integrations


The Unreal Engine 3 and Unity integrations are coming together well. The Unreal integration is in a completely playable/usable state, including the Unreal Tournament 3 sample game which is now a great Oculus-ready example for developers.

The Unity integration is getting underway with the latest Oculus SDK codebase. We’ll post another update in the near future with footage of Oculus VR inside Unity.

We’re working closely with Epic and Unity on integrating support for the Oculus Rift in the free versions of their engines and will keep the community posted on the progress.

Oculus Developer Center Coming

We’re in the process of bringing the Oculus Developer Center online. The Developer Center will have the latest Oculus SDK, engine integrations, official forums, support system, and ways to send hardware/software feedback directly to the Oculus engineering team.

All developers will be invited to join the Developer Center and start discussing Rift development before the kits begin shipping.

Developer Kits, Consumer Rifts, and Virtual Reality

We’re planning a handful of Kickstarter updates dedicated to more detailed information regarding the sensor, the screen, the display controller, and the headset itself. These should be posted over the next few weeks.

Plans for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift are already underway. Due to time constraints for the developer kit, we had to push several exciting features to the consumer version. We’ll continue to keep everyone posted on our progress as we move from research and development into confirmed features.

We’re also counting on you, the community, to help us shape the future of VR and the Oculus Rift. We hope you’re as excited as we are!

Thanks again,

Palmer and the Oculus team

Comments

    1. Creator James McCrae on November 28, 2012

      Awesome, things are moving along well, and I appreciate all the details. This is going to happen!

      Also, I will pay you $300 right now for that working prototype in the picture... plus a limb? :)

    2. Creator Victor on November 28, 2012

      Well there's one thing most projects and people here (and on the US) keep doing which i find absurd, and not ecological (fuel..) at all, if items/devices are made in china, you freight the devices to the US from china.. but all your backers/clients aren't in the US... why don't just send to for example european people directly from china? or use space in a small warehouse and then send from europe?

      There's no point on sending back to europe or asia from the US when is made on china u.U, neither logistically, you'll have to send em to the final destination anyway.

      Also China --> US --> Europe = 2 customs, China --> XCountry = 1 if it is the case....

      Sending from the US like if it is US-made, when is made on the same chinese factories as the dollar stores.

      Even the simplest seller on alibaba does it right.

    3. Creator Romain (deleted) on November 28, 2012

      Hello.
      I may be misunderstood, if this is the case I apologize in advance, but i remember reading on your Kickstarter page that the first Oculus Rift DKT were supposed to be delivered on December of 2012. Now you say you're "happy to be able to finally announce that [it] will begin shipping in March 2013". Shouldn't you rather apologize for the delay?
      Me and my contributor friends wanted to offer this item to a friend for his birthday late December. I knew there was a risk of late but I was hoping to receive it before May in the best case! If you're happy, I for one am rather disappointed.
      Is it possible to get my money back?

    4. Creator Modeus on November 28, 2012

      Thanks for the update guys. No problem on the delay, appreciate the commitment to excellence.

      "We’re working closely with Epic and Unity on integrating support for the Oculus Rift in the free versions of their engines"

      Are you saying that the decision has been made to put it into the free versions and now it's just a matter of effort to get it in? Or is the free Vs Pro versions integration still iffy because it might not be technically possible, and it needs to be investigated first?

    5. Creator gonggeer on November 28, 2012

      Jeff Alberda:
      I am a Chinese and I live in mainland so let me talk a little about spring festival .It is the MOST important holiday for Chinese .And family have to get together.No matter where you are.But china is not a country on wheels,and the highways are not enough,not everyone can afford travel by air,and as we know china has 1500000000 people…you get the picture. The spring festival itself is about 15 days.So the schedule is already give some extra days just in case something happened

    6. Creator David Muniak on November 28, 2012

      Great to hear an update.

      I'm just a little miffed at a delay. Fortunately as a hobbiest I don't have any deadlines to get mine.

      My question is How did you ever think that the original dates were possible?

    7. Creator Martin on November 28, 2012

      Looks great, good news on the uprated screen and tracking. Appreciate you showing the production timeline, good transparency for backers :-)

      @Patrick You must be new to Kickstarter, never believe a first delivery date on something cool.

    8. Creator Jeffrey Kesselman on November 28, 2012

      @patrick
      Yeah, I was looking forward to getting started on my first Oculus app myself so i understand the frustration.

      This is the other high quality HMD I've been tracking. I don't have any experience with it but Ziess certainly knows optics...
      http://cinemizer.zeiss.com/cinemizer-oled/en_de/product-information.html#inpagetabs-3

    9. Creator TOM WOR on November 28, 2012

      Great to hear we get an even better Oculus Rift, that IS worth the wait - I always thought the initial schedule was too ambitious. Keep up the good work.

    10. Creator Benjamin Feuerhahn on November 28, 2012

      What about the DIY-KIT?

    11. Creator Cyril Cheney on November 28, 2012

      @Jeffrey
      Thanks for the input ! I was really planning on watching movies with this but just having some kind of 3d surveillance thing (not looking for high fidelity graphics here). Plus I can change the lenses used on the cameras depending on the required FOV.
      I still think I'll test this depending on what kind of video input the oculus has.

    12. Creator Sauli Kiviranta on November 28, 2012

      Another comment on the cabling between the control box and the display unit. Is the cable extendable? Or does the signal carriage limit the maximum length already? We are planning to utilize the rift for VR purposes in tracked area of approx 5x5m and eMagin z800 has relatively long cable (10ft?) between the display and the control box but still becomes slightly troublesome. Having at least 5meters of cable in between would be awesome if by any technical means possible. You should know the problems :)

    13. Creator Jeff Alberda on November 28, 2012

      Cool update,

      The one thing that surprises me is that the Chinese take a full 1 month holiday every year. Thats insane, especially for a communist country. Well I guess ultra low wages and living under a horrible dictatorship get you at least one benefit. :)

    14. Creator Patrick (deleted) on November 28, 2012

      @Jeffrey
      Thank you for your Links. I will take a look :)
      I absolutely know that I was going a little bit risky on this but I thought (specially because of the big interest etc.) that a delay would be announced earlier – you know ?! I had to announce my topic for the BA-thesis Mid-November. So I thought ... "Cool,... nothing about a delay... two weeks before the deadline. It will work... maybe they need 1-2 weeks more or so"... But this is nuts... 2 Days before a 4 month delay ? I got an update about the new office but not about that earlier ? C´mon :-/
      I definitely have to buy something else ... it is really disappointing :-/

    15. Creator Henri Clinch on November 28, 2012

      Thanks for the clear update, solid project manager skills at work.

    16. Creator Jeffrey Kesselman on November 28, 2012

      @patrick

      I understand your pain, but delays are VERY normal in the launch of a new product in the consumer space. It wasn't a very good idea to pin your own tight schedule to an unreleased product.

      Might I suggest some alternatives that are on the market right now?

      This is quite a nice HMD
      http://www.siliconmicrodisplay.com

      It doesn't come with head tracking but there are many third party options there. This one is used in the flight sim community a great deal and is very stable
      http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/

      (NOTE that I am in no way connected to Oculus and this should not be taken as an Oculus statement.)

    17. Creator Barry Hill on November 28, 2012

      Thanks for the update, I've been really excited about trying it out, but at the same time I thought that the deadline was a little ambitious - these things _always_ take longer when quality is important. Good luck!

    18. Creator Sauli Kiviranta on November 28, 2012

      Hello Palmer and thanks for the update!

      One practical consern raised for me after seeing the new design. Could you elaborate on the weight distribution of the HMD? I see that you are using the traditional skimask style. But when you thinka bout the environment where these are used you could easily extend the surface area to ease the pressure on the cheeks and forehead. For example by extending the soft cushion area beneath the eyes and maybe even above the eyes on forehead for stability... Forgive me if the weight is not issue. I usually try to "overdo" this kind of things if possible so that the pressure on skin is not too big. But the centre of mass just makes me wonder on this one how much it will "leverage" pressure under the eyes.

      Keep up the good work!

    19. Creator Gavin Greenwalt on November 28, 2012

      Looking at that video it looks like the gun tracks with the head. Wouldn't it make more sense for the crosshair/gun to be centered to body space and let the head drive a look-around from a centered and mouse/controller oriented middle?

    20. Creator Eji Warp on November 28, 2012

      That was GREAT.
      Thanks for detail infromation, that will make me more relief,
      Specially about the new 7" display, I care about the status about display at earlier.
      After this update, I'm only care about custom cable right now, that will become some problem at long tern use.

    21. Creator Morten Nørgaard on November 28, 2012

      That's cool - just take your time and build the greatest headset of all time!

    22. Creator Patrick (deleted) on November 28, 2012

      I am really sad about this update. I am a student and I really need the Oculus for my current project for my BA-Thesis. This is my final term and now it is delayed not just for a few weeks... we are talking about 4 Month !!!! I have to do a whole additional term. Can anyone imagine how much this costs ? Is there a way that I can refund this whole thing ? ... :-/ It is really shocking and disappointing for me that I get informed NOW !!! ... This is absolutely to late and now so suddenly...

    23. Creator Jeffrey Kesselman on November 28, 2012

      @Cyril,

      The oculus is really designed for VR. The optics require that the video be pre-distorted so it wont display a straight HDMI stream correctly unless the player knows how to pre-distort the image.

      Additionally, the optcis result in uneven pixel density with the highest density being to the center of the image and the lowest pixel density towards the edges. Again, by itself thsi is less then ideal for movie viewing.

      Having said that,I have an idea for an application (which will likely be my first development project) that, if it works, will allow reasonably comfortable movie watching...

    24. Creator jannever on November 28, 2012

      Awesome, keep up the great work guys!

      One question: Is the FoV improved, considering that you now have a bigger panel? I'm particularly interested in the new horizontal view, considering a FoV exceeding 100 degrees would add to the immersion considerably.

    25. Creator Thomas on November 28, 2012

      Question: Wasn't it possible to go directly for the 5.6" 1080P displays that LG has?

    26. Creator Albert Soler on November 28, 2012

      Thanks very much for a very interesting update!

    27. Creator Thomas on November 28, 2012

      Thanks for the update, it's going to be a late christmas ;-)

    28. Creator Cyril Cheney on November 28, 2012

      A few questions (2) :

      (1) can the oculus display "standard SBS" video stream ? (I see in the unreal integration teaser that the pictures are slightly cropped near the corners)

      (2) what kind of video input does the oculus is planned to have ? (hdmi ? composite ? kinda-usb-ish ?)

      my main reason for backing this project is gaming but it would be nice to display live 3D video by using this multiplexer along with two small camera I use while doing FPV : http://www.aja.com/en/products/mini-converters/hi53d/#overview

    29. Creator Martin on November 28, 2012

      Deeply appreciate the update guys, thank you so much.

      Keep them coming! :)

    30. Creator Max Stewart on November 28, 2012

      Hey guys, I'm gonna have to change my shipping address based on this update - is that possible?

      Really looking forward to getting my hands on it!

    31. Creator GameFace Labs on November 28, 2012

      Shotgun one of the first 7,500!

      Keep up the great work guys!

    32. Creator Jan Ciger on November 28, 2012

      Thanks for a detailed update, Palmer. The original December shipping date was really ueber short, so this sort of delay is not unexpected and quite understandable.

      And I am glad that I was right on the tracker when we talked few months ago by e-mail :) Major kudos for the decent tracker! Most consumer HMDs skimp on this and the experience then suffers.

      Keep up the good work,

      Jan

    33. Creator Cuauhtemoc Oddgoo Moreno on November 28, 2012

      Looks great! Well worth the wait.

    34. Creator Jeffrey Kesselman on November 28, 2012

      A few questions:

      (1) Will the March dev kits have any support for vision correction or is that still only for the consumer release?

      (2) Will there be any way to start developing for Unity before the dev kit release? A stubbed out "simulation" driver perhaps?

      (3) Unity has just released Unity4, you mention 3 in your post. Can we assume that the Unity integration will work with whatever the current version of Unity is at the time of release?

    35. Creator Hesham Wahba on November 28, 2012

      Thanks! Great update! What about pre-kickstarter preorders? :)

    36. Creator Asher Nevins on November 28, 2012

      Is this mid-March date also for the unassembled prototype kits that were supposed to be delivered this month?

    37. Creator Mike Jacobs on November 28, 2012

      Happy to wait a few months for the best possible product. Keep up the great work guys. The Pixel Academy team is stoked to get our hands on this for our kids!

    38. Creator gonggeer on November 28, 2012

      That's it!