Oculus Rift Crescent Bay Hands On


Andrew Hodowanec/Observer

Oculus VR’s latest prototype was on display at CES 2015

Joseph Satterfield, Web Editor

Oculus VR brought the latest prototype of their popular Rift headset to the CES show floor. This new prototype, given the code name Crescent Bay, added full three dimensional head tracking and built in audio output to the headset while improving the already impressive screen used to create the virtual reality effect. Although this prototype was first revealed last September, this was the first time that the general press and tech industry was able to use it.

Oculus Rift Early Prototype
Oculus Rift Early Prototype

The demonstration was presented as a series of unrelated vignettes in which the user could only control the camera. The scenes ranged in genre from science fiction to horror, and each was designed to show off different features of the headset. While most of the demonstration restricted movement a small square in the center of the room, one scene, a diorama of a small town, allowed movement throughout the room. Even as I spun around several times and moved almost all the way across the room, the Rift never lost track of my position and always had a smooth transition between camera angles. The demonstration ended with a scene created in Unreal Engine 4, showing how the VR technologies used in the headset could be utilized in current video game technologies.

Physically, the Rift felt very light and well balanced while it was resting on my head, even though its rather large size would suggest otherwise. During my 15 minute demo, I did not experience any eye strain at all and only noticed the pixelation effect known as the “screen door effect” at the beginning of my session. These small features helped to show off of the improved screen, as many previous demo participants complained about eye strain or pixelation. Although the eyepiece of the Rift fit perfectly, I had some trouble keeping the headphones snug on my ears.

Even without fulfilling pre-show rumors that the consumer version of the Rift would be announced at CES, Oculus VR had a strong showing on the show floor with their best version of the headset yet. In addition to the demo, the company also announced new features that would be available for developers and teased the announcement of a game controller tailored specifically for the Rift. As long as Oculus VR keeps improving its headset and announces a consumer version of the headset soon, the future looks bright for its version of virtual reality.