Software and experience
Masters of Pie said that the water environment means it can take advantage of the Oculus Rift's 360 3D visual range, allowing it to have marine animals passing directly overhead or right next to the viewer.
The demo software was turned around in five days, as the Oculus Rift SDK for Unity is what Masters of Pie called "incredibly easy to implement", and though it's not the most impressive virtual reality gaming experience, it showcased what the Oculus Rift is capable of presenting, especially for something developed in such a short time.
The sea life interacts as and when you look at it. You are told by a narrator who is acting as a diving teacher to look to your right or left to see a sting ray, for example, which won't be activated by the software unless you look up for it, and then it will appear in your field of view.
Sound reaches you through headphones that have to be connected separately to the Oculus Rift, so the sound quality depends on what headphones are used.
Here's an example of the demo we experienced with Oculus Rift.
Although Master's of Pie's Deep Sea Dive experience was rather impessive, all in all we'd say that the lack of high quality visuals and latency let it down and held it back from being a much more compelling experience. We anticipate that the HD model coming this summer should improve the experience for users and thus make it more popular with developers.
The host for our Oculus Rift demo was Karl Maddix, the director of Masters of Pie. He said that the Oculus Rift will be much improved when the second generation is released, and that's due to come out this summer with an HD 1080p display and a more ergonomic design.
Maddix also said that he disagrees with those that denounce the Facebook buyout of Oculus VR. For him, the acquisition means that the headset can finally make it big and reach the masses to enable creative development teams such as those at Masters of Pie to benefit, because it will allow them to open their software to many more potential users as well as collaborate with other Oculus Rift developers.
Maddix said he is quite excited about Oculus Rift, as it could have a positive impact on the education sector.
He added, "We are looking to combine Oculus Rift with a Leap Motion controller so we can combine gesture controls with virtual reality software and make the experience more immersive."
He suggested that school children will be able to learn about molecules in chemistry, for example, by using Oculus Rift to see molecules and use gesture control to combine them to see what reaction occurs.
The Oculus Rift project was launched on Kickstarter on 1 August 2012 to revive a technology that attempted to reach the market over a decade previously. Trying to succeed where many had failed, it had a rather modest campaign goal of $250,000. Within 24 hours, Oculus VR had raised $670,000 from 2,750 people, and within three days it had hit $1m. µ
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