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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.

Details on New Display for Developer Kits

Posted by Oculus (Creator)

Now that we have the developer kit specifications locked down and our manufacturing process underway, there’s a lot more information we can share with everyone. We are putting together a series of updates for our backers about the changes we've made to the design and we thought we'd start with the display.

The panel we were using in our prototype was a 5.6” LCD with a resolution of 1280x800. This screen is a great size for a VR headset and it has an impressive pixel density for the year it was produced. Nevertheless, it has flaws: it isn't particularly bright, the contrast ratio is low, and the color accuracy is abysmal. The two biggest issues, though, are its poor fill factor and high switching times.

Pixel Fill Factor

Fill factor is a combination of several things, but it boils down to this: there are displays that have very little space between the pixel elements and others that have a meaningful amount of black space between pixel elements. DLP projectors are an example of a display type that generally has a very high fill factor with negligible space between pixels; LCDs, on the other hand, often suffer from a low fill factor where a large portion of the panel is occupied by the black space around the pixel elements. On very large screens, this makes it seem as if the image has a fine black grid overlaid on it, often referred to as the “screen door effect”.

On our original 5.6” panel, the screen door effect was easy to see under magnification of the Rift's optics. You don’t notice it as much when you’re playing, but it’s still an unfortunate artifact. Luckily, the new 7” display has a much higher fill factor! This means that the screen door effect is significantly reduced, resulting in a better looking image.

Pixel Switching Time

The second major flaw was the switching time, the amount of time required for a pixel to switch from one color to another. Our old panel begins switching colors very quickly, which was good, since it reduced the latency between movement and the image responding. However, it’s weakness was that it took a very long time to fully switch colors. This sometimes resulted in motion-blur effect as the frames switched, especially during quick movements of the head.

Our new 7” panel has a switching time that is about twice as fast! This makes a big difference in the perceived responsiveness of the system and helps alleviate the undesired motion-blur.

Other Benefits of the 7'' Display

There are several other minor enhancements: the contrast ratio is greatly improved, which can especially help with games like DOOM 3: BFG Edition where you have bright lights in dark environments; the color accuracy is better as well (though it can be hard to tell if you don’t have both panels side by side to compare); and the total light output of the new display is higher, resulting in more vibrant bright scenes.

We've also changed our drive electronics! The control box is attached to the headset with a thin and durable cable carrying video, USB, and power. The box contains a custom control board that we designed to minimize video latency. It has easily accessible buttons for contrast and brightness adjustment and it's much smaller than the control boxes we've been showing with our prototypes.

Being forced to switch panels was certainly a challenge, but in the end it should result in an improved Oculus Rift developer kit and a better VR experience overall.

Oculus at I/ITSEC This Week!

We're at I/ITSEC 2012 in Orlando, Florida this week (Dec. 3 - 6). If you're at the conference, come by our booth, #3034 on the show floor, and check out the latest Rift demos.You can also email if you're interested in a private meeting with our team.

More updates coming soon. Thanks everyone!

Palmer and the Oculus team


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    1. Missing avatar

      Edward del Villar on

      Have you guys had a chance to play with the Wii U yet? Particularly the way the gamepad works with NintendoLand. It feels very responsive, and more importantly it's completely wireless, something which would enhance the Oculus Rift if it were possible in the future. Seeing that in action makes me even more excited for the future of VR tech.

    2. Missing avatar

      Jounayd Id Salah on

      You all forget that the pixel density will be higher in front of you and lower to the sides. Because of that I think it is useless to compare to your desktop screen.

    3. Missing avatar

      Daniel Vazquez on

      With super high resolution displays, isn't the issue the performance limitations of current computers? And also, technical issues involved with current output limitations of HDMI outputing stereo 3D @ 1080p.

    4. Missing avatar

      Brett Klooster on

      I'd be curious if they can't get a double-density display for the consumer version if having a mirror split the vision and have two separate displays to increase the resolution? 2 5" 1080 displays would be capable of the screen coverage if orientated vertically and split? Assuming that the cost isn't astronomical and I'm probably wrong in that it can be done due to the optics required. Just a thought.

    5. Sagron on

      I wonder how hard it will be to upgrade the panels they're shipped with... If I can upgrade by throwing in one or two new displays (for example replace the single display with 2 of LG's new 1080p HD 5-inch Retina display)... I'm a very happy camper.

    6. Eji Warp on

      Hello. Sorry for my bad english.

      Is the FOV still 110 degree or more?
      Seems that It will be almost same as previous panel been metion before at previous update,
      But If the FOV is same, that mean the distance from eye-ball to panel will increase,
      and the weight is also increase, I think that will be more weight been to be feel than the number about additional 30g....
      well, I think that will be care about.

      About resolution problem, that is just simpily does not exist a 7inch display that bigger than 1280x800 I think.

      There are some 10inch panels that have 1920x1200 or 2048x1536 and become cheaper after some china's iPad like product, but it just too big to be used on RIFT.

      Waiting the update about control box, I'm a little care about If there have a DisplayPort support or not.

    7. joelsweb on

      I'm curious as to how easy it will be to add or modify the hardware. Is the case going to be easy to open up? And will full part lists and schematics be available and documented?

    8. Missing avatar

      Daniel Vazquez on

      Palmer, is that the biggest flaw of the Rift? That whatever screen you use has its horizontal resolution cut in half? Or are there other issues that we as a community fail to realize are more important?

    9. Missing avatar

      Jashan Chittesh on

      I just wanted to say "Thank you!!!" for taking the risk of creating this awesome technology, and also for keeping everyone in the loop. I'm very much looking forward to the developer kit and getting started porting my games to work with the Oculus Rift.

      Keep up the great work and good luck for the next steps in getting this product into our and our customers hands!!!

    10. Thomas on

      Robert Reikow: Still, the two images would make the image sharper and the pixels less apparent i think.

      I hope this panel will be available in mass-production soon:

    11. Missing avatar

      Glen on

      Will the control box also have a USB hub? If not is there a chance that the consumer version will have?

      It will make it much easier to connect a headset or a control device to the control box than having to run it back to a pc.

    12. Ka'i Kau on

      @roid, I don't think it works like that. The rendered image in your brain of the two images together won't be 1280 by 800.

    13. Missing avatar

      roid on

      > I just disliked that you acted as if 720x800 [sic] is a good resolution.

      I think the reasonable assumption is that we'll actually be using the Rift with BOTH our eyes open at once, the resolution is 1280x800.

    14. Missing avatar

      Remi D. Finjord on

      To anyone still debating the resolution math, the homepage of this kickstarter still says:
      Resolution: 1280x800 (640x800 per eye)

    15. Peter de Castro on

      Sounds great! The work and thought you folks are putting into this is just awesome.

      One thing I'm curious about that I haven't seen mentioned, though: Is chromatic aberration significant enough -- particularly with this larger screen -- that you can/should compensate for it in the warp shader? I'm guessing not after a quick look at the D3:BFG source and since I haven't read about it elsewhere, but I'm still curious...

    16. Oculus Creator on

      @Hannes K: If better resolution was available in anything mass produced, we would be using it. The only better panels out there are in engineering sample phase, not really suitable for a product that costs $300! The resolution is low, yes, but certainly good enough to get developers started so that there is plenty of content when the consumer product ships.

      @Daniel Vazquez: I would love to use that Sharp panel too! Unfortunately, it is simply too small. Even if it were a larger and more appropriate size, it is not available for purchase until you are selling many, many times more units than our developer kits.

      @ Ian Peters: We will have the dimensions up some point. Hold tight on your helmet. :)


    17. Missing avatar

      libelula on

      It's great that you are releasing more information. Thanks!

      All excited again for March to arrive!

    18. Kerrash on

      Immersion is the key here, not resolution. You could simulate a large resolution image just by moving your head around.

    19. Andreas Monitzer

      Yay for less motion blur! Now we can add shaders to our games to simulate motion blur again :)
      @Hannes K: I have no idea how your math works out. 1280x800 is 640x800 per eye for me.

    20. Ian Peters on

      Now the design has been finalised, can you provide any specific dimensions? I'm looking at (amongst other things) putting the display into a cosplay helmet (think Iron Man, with a HUD, and a camera in the helmet to provide AR). I'm looking for width+height of the rectangular front, plus depth to the face at both the center-top and left/right-top. Any schematics at all would be really useful. Thanks.

    21. Thomas on

      Stop whining about the resolution, it's not everything that defines a good display. And you have to keep in mind that these guys are a company, they work for profit and selling a product twice is better than once.

    22. Missing avatar

      Hannes K on

      Sorry I mean 720x800 not 720x400

    23. Missing avatar

      Daniel Vazquez on

      No, it's the same resolution. I would love to see the Sharp 1920x1080 5" display used. I'd be willing to pay extra for that.

    24. Missing avatar

      Hannes K on

      The biggest flaw is the extremely low resolution you receive.
      1280x800 would be "ok" but it is split for the eyes, and 720x400 is really a very low resolution for a display.

      At normal games we play at a 1900 resultion and we have this resolution on a small screen which fills less than 90° of our view.

      I'm aware higher resolution comes at a higher price but I just disliked that you acted as if 720x400 is a good resolution.

    25. Missing avatar

      Peter Verrey on

      Thanks, excellent update!

    26. Aaron Kaluszka on

      Ah, missed that in the previous update. Sounds great!

    27. Kerrash on

      I cannot wait to get my hands on this! :D

    28. Thomas on

      Aaron, yes.

      I appreciate that you changed the display to something that seems hugely improved, don't worry about the delayed delivery time - i'm sure all of us understand the immense task at hand and we really do get a better piece of hardware for the same amount of money! Keep up the amazing work guys!

    29. Aaron Kaluszka on

      Is the resolution still the same?