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Developer kit for the Oculus Rift - the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
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Oculus

9,522 backers pledged $2,437,429 to help bring this project to life.

Welcome Atman Binstock, Chief Architect

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We’re thrilled to introduce Atman Binstock, Oculus’ new Chief Architect!

Atman was one of the lead engineers and driving forces behind Valve’s VR project, creating the ‘VR Room’ demo that garnered so much excitement at Steam Dev Days. Prior to Valve, Atman led several projects at top companies in the industry, including RAD, DICE, and Intel.

Atman and the Valve VR team helped prove simulator sickness could be overcome and a true sense of "presence" could be delivered. He helped set the bar for consumer virtual reality and is dedicated to making sure Oculus delivers the highest quality VR experience.

Atman wanted to share his start in VR with the community:

“Just over two years ago, Michael Abrash and I were sitting in a coffee shop in Kirkland. He was trying to convince me to come work on AR and VR with him at Valve.

At the time, I was trying to wrap my head around two questions: ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why now?’ Michael did a good job of explaining that a confluence of technologies was developing that could make compelling virtual experiences possible, but I still wrestled with ‘Why me?’ After all, if the technology was really ready, surely people more capable than me would figure it out.

But Michael convinced me that this was basically the myth of technological inevitability: the idea that because technologies were possible, they would just naturally happen. Instead, the way technological revolutions actually happen involve smart people working hard on the right problems at the right time. And if I wanted a revolution, and I thought I was capable of contributing, I should be actively pushing it forward.

I signed up.

Two years later, we’ve solved some of the basic problems, proven great VR is not only possible but truly magical, and now I want to bring it to the world. I’m incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity -- We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible, and I can’t wait to discover what’s next!”

 


Image courtesy Serenity Forge.

Atman will be spearheading the new Oculus R&D team based in the Seattle area. We’re looking for exceptional engineers to help research and develop the future of virtual reality. If you’re interested in working with us, please visit oculus.com/careers or email careers+seattle@oculusvr.com.

End of Rift Development Kit Sales

We’re quickly running out of stock for the Rift development kit, so we’ve shut down sales in most regions. A handful of the hardware components are no longer being manufactured, and as a result, we’re ramping down production and distribution of the original kits.

 

We never expected to sell so many Rift development kits and the fact that we’re close to being sold out after 60,000 kits is nothing short of incredible -- Thank you for your support! We’ll have more news on this soon, so stay tuned! 

GDC, PAX East, and E3

We just wrapped up SXSW in Austin where we did a live Q&A panel and the first public demo of the Crystal Cove prototype since CES:

CNN - “SXSW: Demo of 'Game of Thrones' on Oculus Rift wows virtual reality fans”

Wired - “How It Felt to Experience Game of Thrones Through an Oculus Rift”

Palmer, Ryan and Nate on the SXSW panel, “Exploring the Future of Virtual Reality with Oculus”:

 
The team is heads-down in the run up to GDC 2014 next week. We’re giving two talks at the show, along with hosting a booth on the expo floor (with 20 demo stations!):

Working with the Latest Oculus Rift Hardware and Software
Michael Antonov and Nate Mitchell - Wednesday, March 19th @ 11am - 12pm

Developing Virtual Reality Games and Experiences
Tom Forsyth - Thursday, March 20th @ 2:30pm - 3:30pm

If you’re at the show, make sure to stop by and say Hello! And just in case you missed it, here’s Palmer’s talk from Steam Dev Days in January:

We’ll see you at GDC!

-- The Oculus Team

EVE: Valkyrie, Open Source Hardware, and the Best Practices Guide

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The intersection of transparency and open collaboration between Oculus and the development community often leads to amazing content and inspiring breakthroughs. Today, we’re excited to share a few great examples.

Oculus Co-Publishing EVE: Valkyrie

First, we’re thrilled to announce that the first Oculus co-publishing project is none other than EVE: Valkyrie, making Valkyrie an exclusive Oculus Rift launch title.  

EVE: Valkyrie, developed by the team at CCP Games (creators of EVE Online and DUST 514), is one of the first AAA games designed exclusively for the Rift. The project, initially called “EVE-VR”, was born from a small, passionate team within CCP who supported Oculus during the Kickstarter campaign. 

Since its debut at EVE Fanfest last year, Valkyrie has been a brilliant showcase for the power of VR and hands-down one of our favorite Rift games. At E3 2013, Valkyrie came away with a half-dozen awards including Best Game of E3 from PC Gamer and Most Innovative Game from IGN. Valkyrie was also a key part of the award-winning Crystal Cove demos at CES this year.  

The original EVE-VR team.

“We strongly believe the best VR experiences are going to be the ones built from the ground up for VR, and we've kept that in mind whilst developing Valkyrie.

We wanted people to really feel like they were there - to sense the vastness of space, feel the confined area of the cockpit and get that adrenaline rush as you see an exploding fighter whizz past your head.

In a very short amount of time this passion project became a full fledged CCP project which we're now working on in Newcastle. It's hard to believe how far we've come in a year!”

-- CCP EVE Valkyrie team members Robert Clarke, Programmer, and Sigurður Gunnarsson, Senior Programmer 

We couldn’t be more excited for the future of Valkyrie, and we're thrilled to help CCP bring the best possible made-for-VR experience to the Rift. 

We’re looking for more great developers to partner with on made-for-VR content. If you’re interested in potentially teaming up, email us at publishing@oculusvr.com to learn more!

Open Sourcing the Latency Tester

A key part of the Oculus culture is a drive for openness. We believe that making Oculus more open and transparent will ultimately accelerate and improve virtual reality technology for everyone. 

As part of this effort, today we’ve released the Oculus Latency Tester as open source hardware. This includes the firmware as a CooCox project, the schematic and board layout in Eagle, STLs of a 3D printable enclosure, and documentation of the interface. The entire package is available to view, download, and fork in a GitHub repository.  


The Latency Tester is now under permissive licenses that let you freely use, modify, distribute, tear apart, and even sell the project or pieces of it to your heart's content. The firmware, excluding vendor libraries, is released under the Apache 2.0 License. The schematic, board layout, and enclosure are available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. These licenses make working with the Latency Tester source as convenient as possible. 


The Latency Tester contains a Cortex M3-based microcontroller, a digitally interfaced RGB color sensor, and a 3 digit 7 segment display. Testing the latency of the Rift is just one use case. You could build a display color calibrator, an ambient light detector, a general purpose tester of video game latency with external trigger input, or a myriad of other projects with a little hacking on the firmware or hardware.  


The files are available for you to build your own, but if you don't want to break out the soldering iron or toaster oven, you can order a Latency Tester here. A new production run was just completed and will be shipping out shortly. 

We’re always looking at open-sourcing other aspects of the Oculus hardware and software stack that can be useful to the community. We’ll keep you posted on future developments!

Best Practices Guide



Photo courtesy Dave Oshry.

At Steam Dev Days, Palmer announced that we’ve released the Oculus Best Practices Guide, a collection of suggestions and basic guidelines for developing VR content. The guide is the result of months of research, prototyping, and testing by the Oculus team along with key members of the community. 

If you’re interested in developing VR games or experiences, we highly recommend giving it a read. Here’s a very brief section from the introduction for inspiration:

“VR is an immersive medium. It creates the sensation of being entirely transported into a virtual (or real, but digitally reproduced) three-dimensional world, and it can provide a far more visceral experience than screen-based media. Enabling the mind’s continual suspension of disbelief requires particular attention to detail. It can be compared to the difference between looking through a framed window into a room, versus walking through the door into the room and freely moving around.”

You can download the guide now from the Oculus Developer Center here: http://static.oculusvr.com/sdk-downloads/documents/OculusBestPractices.pdf

The Best Practices Guide is an ever-evolving document, and we’re always reviewing and adding emerging insights from the developer community. If you have suggestions, let us know by emailing bestpractices@oculusvr.com!

What’s Next?

The team will be at a ton of upcoming events, including at IndieCade East, SXSW, and GDC. If you’re at one of the shows, swing by and say “Hi”. Brendan and Palmer are also giving a talk on the future of virtual reality on Thursday at 2:30pm PST from DICE, which will be livestreamed at http://www.twitch.tv/DICE.

Finally, as always, we’re recruiting the best and the brightest, especially: 

- Senior 3D Artists and Modelers
- Senior Animators
- Senior Gameplay Engineers

...to help us build next-gen VR content! 

You can find all the latest opportunities for Oculus’ Irvine, San Francisco, and Dallas offices at www.oculusvr.com/careers

Hope to see you soon!

-- The Oculus Team

Crystal Cove Debut, CES Recap, and Steam Dev Days

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January has been an incredible month for virtual reality. Between the debut of the Crystal Cove prototype, numerous awards at CES, Valve’s VR demo, the inspiring Steam Dev Days presentations, and an amazing reception at the Sundance Film Festival, it’s becoming clear to the world that virtual reality is on the horizon, and it’s going to change everything.

The Crystal Cove Prototype

Starting with CES, we revealed a new Oculus Rift feature prototype, codenamed “Crystal Cove”. Crystal Cove is the most immersive and comfortable hardware that we’ve shown to date, and demonstrates two key features that we’ll be including consumer Rift: positional tracking and low persistence.

The result is a powerful sense of presence -- the magic of being completely convinced that you’re actually someplace else.

Positional Tracking

We’ve said before that precise, low-latency positional tracking is a requirement for great VR since the virtual world can be accurately synced to the player’s real world movements. Crystal Cove introduces a new 6-degrees-of-freedom positional tracking system, resulting in a much more comfortable and immersive experience.

It also opens up completely new opportunities for gameplay that would be impossible without position data (eg. peeking around corners or out windows, examining an object from multiple angles, and dodging bullets a la ‘The Matrix’).

Crystal Cove’s positional tracking system is optically-based, with an external camera tracking LEDs on the the headset. By referencing the LEDs on the headset against a virtual model of the headset, it can determine the Rift's location in physical space. The system was designed by the Oculus team, with a custom vision pipeline that we’ll continue to optimize and build on.

Low Persistence

Crystal Cove also incorporates “low persistence” display technology, which we see as another major breakthrough for VR.

Low persistence delivers the most comfortable and natural experience yet by eliminating motion blur and judder, which also increases the visual stability of the scene. It doesn’t sound very flashy on paper, but it makes a huge impact on immersion that can only be appreciated once you see it firsthand.

By driving a modified OLED display at a high refresh rate and only illuminating the pixels on the screen for a tiny fraction of each frame length, low-persistence eliminates the outdated display data that your eyes would normally see between frames.

If you’re interested to learn more about the technical and physiological details that make low persistence so key, Michael Abrash at Valve has a great blog post explaining the technique in more detail: http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/down-the-vr-rabbit-hole-fixing-judder/

We’d like to throw a special thank-you to Valve for their collaboration and support in developing the tech behind Crystal Cove.

UE4 Strategy VR and EVE: Valkyrie

We showcased two demos on Crystal Cove: Unreal Engine 4 Strategy VR and EVE: Valkyrie, both optimized for positional tracking and low persistence.

UE4 Strategy VR is a tower-defense game, where players take on the Lava Lord in a match-up that pits waves of dwarves against their arrow, cannon, and flame towers. The demo is perfect for showcasing positional tracking, where players can actually lean over and into the board to get a better look at the scene, or peek around a wall to look at oncoming attackers.

A huge thank you to the amazing team at Epic Games, particularly Nick Whiting, Alan Willard, and Nick Donaldson, who designed, built, and optimized the demo from top to bottom for CES!

 

The EVE: Valkyrie demo was built on an early build of the game that was originally shown at Gamescom. Valkyrie continues to be one of the hands-down, best Rift experiences, and we’d like to thank the entire team at CCP for making such a great game. We’re looking forward to Valkyrie’s bright future!

Highlights from CES

It's truly hard to capture the excitement and momentum around Oculus at CES, but Crystal Cove was a huge hit at the show, taking home more than 10 awards, including Best in Show from Engadget (the official awards for CES), the Verge, and Wired.

Winning Best in Show marks a huge victory for VR, especially being selected from thousands of incredible products at the biggest consumer electronics show in the world.

Photo courtesy of Engadget. A few of the press highlights from the week:

"I Wore the New Oculus Rift and I Never Want to Look at Real Life Again" - Gizmodo

"Mere Words Can't Do Justice To How Awesome The New Oculus Rift Gaming Headset Is — And I Don't Even Like Video Games" - Business Insider

Steam Dev Days

After CES, we headed to Steam Dev Days in Seattle, where thousands of the industry’s best game developers gathered to discuss the future of Steam and VR.

Palmer gave a talk, providing his top suggestions for aspiring VR game developers in 25-short minutes. All of the talks were recorded, and Valve has said they’ll share them in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for the video in a future update.

Michael Abrash also gave a powerful talk on the future of virtual reality that you can read here: http://media.steampowered.com/apps/abrashblog/Abrash%20Dev%20Days%202014.pdf

The inspiring start to his talk:
"Compelling consumer-priced VR hardware is coming, probably within two years.
It’s for real this time – we’ve built prototypes, and it’s pretty incredible.
Our technology should work for consumer products.
VR will be best and will evolve most rapidly on the PC.
Steam will support it well.
And we think it’s possible that it could transform the entire entertainment industry."

- Michael Abrash

We couldn’t agree more.

Valve also shared their VR tech demo with developers at the show. We’ve tried it, and it really is one of the best VR experiences in the world. As Palmer mentioned during his talk, their demo sets the bar for virtual reality “presence”, and we intend to deliver that quality of experience to the world with the consumer Rift.

Building the Future

If you're interested in being part of that future, building and shipping the world’s best consumer VR platform, we're always looking for the brightest engineers in:

Computer Vision
Software Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Web Services

...and just about everything else too.

There’s a lot more exciting advancements ahead for VR in 2014. Thanks again for your support -- We're just getting started, and none of this would be possible without you.

We’ll see you in the Rift!

-- The Oculus Team

Fostering the Oculus Ecosystem

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Over the last year, we've seen the Oculus community create some of the most innovative and compelling VR experiences in the history of the medium. It’s been inspiring to see so many of these projects and teams go on to raise investment from the community and venture capital groups to build something special. And this is only just the beginning.

One of the key components for truly awe-inspiring virtual reality is great content. At Oculus, we’re constantly looking at new ways to support Oculus developers, foster the ecosystem, and truly fuel the future of virtual reality. One of our long-time, favorite ideas has been to actually fund and publish Oculus games, applications, and experiences ourselves by providing additional support and resources for key developers building the games and content that we believe will define the platform. 

We’ve been working quietly, behind the scenes with a select group of amazing developers on this new publishing initiative. Now, we’d like to introduce you to a new team member who'll be leading this effort full-time!

Welcome David De Martini!

 

We're thrilled to introduce David De Martini, our new Head of Worldwide Publishing!

David brings an incredible amount of game development and publishing expertise to Oculus. David was formerly at EA, where he worked on a huge number of games and franchises, including NASCAR, March Madness, Tiger Woods PGA Tour (2002-2006), and The Godfather. Eventually, he moved to EA Partners, EA's co-publishing arm dedicated to publishing games developed by external developers, where he worked with top development studios around the world to create hit games like Rock Band, the Crysis series, and Titanfall. 

David will be leading Oculus’s publishing initiative, providing Oculus developers additional resources to help them achieve their vision. This means new opportunities for key developers for direct support from Oculus, and ultimately, more great content on the Oculus platform. 

Please join us in welcoming David to the team! We couldn’t be more excited to have him. 

We'll have more news on the publishing initiative and some of the key developers that we're working early next year. Stay tuned!

New Blog Post: “Help! My Cockpit is Drifting Away!”

Steve LaValle has written a new blog post on magnetometers, sensor data, and the science behind drift correction in the Rift. If you've ever wondered why your virtual reality cockpit will sometimes begin drifting away, and what we're working on at Oculus to address it, this post has your answers.  

“It turns out that the Rift Development Kit similarly suffers from yaw drift error, which is a steadily growing error in the estimated “forward” direction. Fortunately, the sensor board inside the Rift contains a magnetometer. Determining which way your Rift is facing ought to be as simple as reading the magnetometer values to obtain a virtual compass arrow, right? Like most research pursuits, however, the quest to solve a problem leads to several waves of confusion and further enlightenment. In this post, I will explain how we correct yaw drift error in the Rift. The key for me, at least, was to shatter my belief in the perfect compass, and understand what a magnetometer, the real sensor, is actually trying to measure.” 

You can read the full post over on the Oculus Blog or via this direct link.

Quick Shipping Update

We're finally shipping development kits within 3-5 days of the order being placed! It certainly took us longer than expected to reach this point, and we appreciate everyone's patience as we worked to get here. 

If you're interested in purchasing additional Oculus Rift development kits or the Oculus Latency Tester, you can learn more at oculusvr.com/order.

VR Jam Shirts Shipping

The VR Jam shirts are now shipping out to teams who submitted a build for each of the jam's milestones. If you were on one of these teams, you should receive your shirts within the next few weeks, depending on region.  

Thanks again to all the teams for making VR Jam 2013 such a success!

Happy Holidays from Oculus!

It's been an incredible year, and we owe an enormous thank you to you, the community. We wouldn't be here without you.

We wish you all the best this holiday season, and we'll see you in 2014!

-- The Oculus Team

Onward to the Metaverse!

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Over the last 16 months, we’ve grown from a small team working out of our apartments and garages in California to a global team of nearly 70 top engineers, game developers, designers, and scientists. We’ve built groundbreaking new hardware and software, bringing the seemingly impossible to life. We’ve seen over 40,000 developers and enthusiasts join the cause and build innovative content that’s captured the imaginations of people everywhere. One thing has remained constant: we’re as dedicated to delivering on that vision -- the promise of the Metaverse -- as the day we started.

An engineering company like Oculus requires substantial capital. We’re building the best team, designing new hardware, manufacturing millions of units, and developing great games, apps, and experiences. We’re always looking for new partners to help us change the world.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve closed a $75MM Series B investment led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). a16z shares our passion and vision for the future of virtual reality and is one of the best venture capital firms in the world, guiding transformative technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Skype and GitHub. a16z joins Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Formation 8 and Founders Fund, which have all invested additional capital.

Marc-Andreessen

VR has the potential to revolutionize the way that we live, learn, play, communicate, and much more. As a community, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

With this new funding, we’ll be investing heavily in future R&D, expanding our hardware manufacturing and distribution operations, developing the world’s premier VR platform, and recruiting more competitively than ever before. It also means we’re designing and publishing more incredible VR content -- the types of games, applications and experiences that will define the platform.

The right venture capital firm, investor, or board member can bring incredible value to a company – opening new doors, bringing a wealth of business and technology expertise, and creating otherwise impossible opportunities. As part of the investment, Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon will be joining our board of directors. Please welcome Marc and Chris to the team!

Marc wanted to share a few words with the community:

"I first worked in 3D interactivity and virtual reality over 20 years ago at the University of Illinois. I've been actively following VR ever since. Like the iPad delivered on the Newton's vision of tablet computing 20 years later, Oculus delivers on the potential of VR that we saw but couldn't realize at the time. We believe Oculus will not only alter the gaming landscape but will redefine fundamental human experiences in areas like film, education, architecture, and design. Oculus is at the tip of the iceberg of its potential, and we're incredibly excited to help them change the world."

Interested in changing the world? We’re looking for the best and brightest engineers for Irvine, Dallas, and (soon) San Francisco. Check out the Oculus Careers page for more details.

Thank you again for making this possible. Now, onward, to the Metaverse!

-- Brendan, Palmer, John and the Oculus team