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Oculus Rift - An unique product, or a new technology?


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#1 Taoki

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 04:43 PM

I wasn't sure if to post this in the gaming section or the hardware section. Since the technology will probably not be only for games, I thought this would be the best place. Please move the thread if I was wrong.

 

I've slowly started gaining interest in this whole Oculus Rift thing. It's actually been a few years since I wanted to play games or watch stereo pictures / movies on eyephones with stereoscopic rendering support. And although I didn't initially care about head tracking, that will be a very welcome ability as well. It overall sounds like a very promising future for VR technology... or does it?

 

I have one big problem with this whole thing so far: I want to use devices that are the product of a technology, not a technology that is the product of a device. Think of mice for instance: Countless brands produce computer mice... optical ones, bluetooth ones, with various additional buttons, you name it. Computer mice aren't a device that belongs to either Microsoft or any other firm. Most importantly, mice require no additional drivers to provide basic functionality, and you don't need to install each brand's software to use one. They simply work when you plug them in... whether it's on a PC or Laptop, a Windows or a Linux machine, a Genius or a Logitech mouse. On the other hand, video cards require brand specific drivers (like ATI and Nvidia), but applications themselves don't need to code support for each of the two so they can render images. If I'm to take interest in modern eyephones, I want it to be the same thing; A new technology that can be developed and supported by anyone and everyone, rather than being some corporation's toy. Especially with the popularity the Rift is getting, I imagine patent trolling (for both hardware and software) will occur, and things might not go so smoothly.

 

Now I've read about alternatives to the Oculus Rift already being prepared. So in regard to hardware, I assume the problem isn't very bad, and "eyephones with head tracking" can themselves be considered a free technology that's not up for patent claims. But I am somewhat concerned on the software part. Typically, if a common open-source implementation can exist. By common I mean a driver as well as per-application integration that can work with all and any such devices; The Oculus Rift itself, as well as all the different products made by other brands as an alternative... which might use different approaches and technologies. For example, will a game engine be able to write common code for eyephones, which can render stereoscopic image on both the Oculus Right and Google Glass alike?

 

As an open-source game developer, who might be interested to support the technology myself, I'm even more interested in better understanding this. I don't care to ever code support for "someone's hardware", only for actual architectures. I also wouldn't want to be in the position of adding support for the Oculus Rift, then when someone makes an alternative write an integration for that, then when a third brand creates yet another headset code that too, and so on. That would be like manually adding support for Genius, IBM, Microsoft, etc. keyboards to my code, which would be preposterous.

 

So what's known so far on this end, and how do you think things will go? Will the Oculus Rift require both drivers and application integration to support it, will only drivers be needed but the implementation becomes common, or will the Rift use a common architecture entirely which all programs and similar hardware can relate to without individual dependencies?


Edited by Taoki, 22 May 2014 - 04:54 PM.


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#2 ElfBane

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 02:02 AM

 Think of mice for instance: Countless brands produce computer mice... optical ones, bluetooth ones, with various additional buttons, you name it. Computer mice aren't a device that belongs to either Microsoft or any other firm. Most importantly, mice require no additional drivers to provide basic functionality, and you don't need to install each brand's software to use one. They simply work when you plug them in... whether it's on a PC or Laptop, a Windows or a Linux machine, a Genius or a Logitech mouse.

Mice do require a driver. They are basically generic and yes, they do have almost universal functionality, but the driver is required.



#3 Taoki

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 07:15 AM

Mice do require a driver. They are basically generic and yes, they do have almost universal functionality, but the driver is required.

 

 

Oh... a driver is required of course. I meant to say that for mice it's universal. Except if you want extra functionality, like the custom buttons most models come with... a custom driver is indeed distributed then.



#4 GreenGiant117

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 03:39 PM

It's an interesting and valid worry, no doubt.

 

My understanding is that the Rift will act something like a screen, so the computer will see it as an extra screen rather than a specific device, I mean it will know that it is called the Oculus Rift but its not a completely unique and obscure thing.

 

Take for example the Leap Motion, what that does is uses a driver that is basically a touch screen, and the computer just thinks that your screen has touch capabilities, but what you actually have is much more complicated.

What this means is that pretty much anything that was built for touchscreens will work very well with the Leap Motion, I think it will be very similar to that with the Rift.

 

FYI Steam already has some games that are Virtual Reality (VR) ready/capable the hardware just needs to be finalized/developed



#5 Taoki

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 05:22 PM

Thanks for the info, GreenGiant117. That sounds like we can hope for a common architecture, and that VR glasses will be more than just the Rift.

 

If the Oculus Rift is detected and used as a video device like monitors, that is a great start. What about stereoscopic rendering however? Are any proprietary or Rift specific properties needed for that, or do the standard implementations know how to render different images on each lens (such as side-by-side screen separation)? I imagine most renderers (such as X11 server) should have some common understanding of stereoscopic devices to this day.

 

With that out of the way, the only other concern is the head tracking system. Does that use a generic architecture as well?






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