Oculus Rift S Hands-on Preview – A Better, Easier to Use Rift

Oculus has lastly taken the wraps off of Rift S, its first PC VR headset launch in three years. However there’s a cause the corporate is asking this Rift S and never Rift 2; the adjustments are principally for the higher, however not enhancements throughout the board.

This week at GDC, throughout a particular Oculus media occasion, we bought our first take a look at the Rift S, the corporate’s Rift-replacement that’s clearly designed for ease of use and affordability; the Rift S will launch in Spring and be obtainable for $400, and is in fact absolutely appropriate with the prevailing Rift library.

For an in depth take a look at specs and options, see our article in regards to the Rift S announcement right here.

The high-level look is that Rift S strikes to an inside-out monitoring system (in lieu of the extra cumbersome exterior sensors of its predecessor), will get a small improve in decision, and an ergonomic redesign. However there’s a couple of adjustments that don’t really feel like clear-cut enhancements over the unique Rift.


Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 15Photograph by Highway to VR


Of major curiosity is what issues appear to be by the Rift S. Right here’s the thin: Rift S now makes use of a single show which quantities to 1,280 × 1,440 per-eye, a reasonable improve (1.four occasions the overall pixels) over the unique Rift’s 1,zero80 × 1,200 per-eye decision. However, the brand new show is LCD as an alternative of OLED, which brings a handful of advantages like a greater fill-factor (much less unlit area between pixels) and fewer mura, however typically lacks the wealthy colours and distinction of OLED. That stated, Rift S’s LCD show appears fairly as much as the duty, regardless of working at 80Hz in comparison with the Rift’s 90Hz.

Readability and Area of View

With the bump in decision alone you get a bit higher constancy and a bit much less display door impact, however with the improved fill-factor of LCD, the display door impact (unlit area between pixels) sees a fairly stable discount which makes the Rift S readability appear higher than the reasonable change in decision would counsel.

With a “barely bigger” subject of view—in response to Oculus, which wouldn’t present a selected FOV measurement—and minimal mura, what you see contained in the headset appears to be like loads like the unique Rift however with higher readability. The display door impact is much less distracting, and it’s simpler to get misplaced within the content material.

Refresh Charge & Lenses

Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 16Photograph by Highway to VR

On the 80Hz show, Oculus says that one cause for making it decrease than the Rift’s 90Hz show was to make sure they may keep the identical really helpful PC specs as the unique headset (to keep away from fragmentation). That stated, I don’t assume I’d have any likelihood of seeing the distinction between the Rift S at 80Hz and the Rift at 90Hz, although anybody who is extremely delicate to flicker would possibly have the ability to really feel the distinction in excessively vibrant scenes.

As for the brand new lenses in Rift S, it’s too early for me to say with certainty to what extent they’ve modified issues, however assuming they’re much like the improved lenses in Quest and Go (as Oculus says), then I’d count on a bigger candy spot. These are nonetheless Fresnel lenses although, so you possibly can count on some god rays, although they’ve possible been diminished to an identical extent as Quest and Go. Ignore anybody telling you “there’s no god rays” (which I hear on a regular basis on headsets the place this isn’t the case); god rays are most seen with excessive distinction scenes and also you aren’t prone to discover them in any other case. Nonetheless, in my time with the Rift S to date, I didn’t get to decide on what content material I used to be , so I didn’t get to tug up a very good check for god rays.

No Hardware IPD Adjustment

As a result of Rift S is utilizing a single show, it has no IPD adjustment (not like the unique Rift) to vary the space between the lenses to match the space between your eyes. A correct IPD setting is essential for visible consolation (and makes it simpler to realize most panel utilization). Whereas IPD on the Rift S will be adjusted, to an extent, in software program, customers on the outer limits of the IPD vary could be left wanting. Oculus hasn’t specified what they contemplate to be the headset’s acceptable IPD vary.


Oculus is speaking up the brand new passthrough functionality of the Rift S, which permits customers to ‘see by’ their headset by piping the video feed from the on-board cameras into the shows. The corporate says they’ve paid particular consideration to ensure the feed is low latency, excessive framerate, and stereo-correct, which is why they’ve calling it ‘Passthrough+’.

Passthrough+ was sadly not prepared for testing throughout my Rift S demo, however Oculus says that customers will have the ability to arrange their Guardian playspace boundaries through the use of passthrough+. As an alternative of tracing the boundary utilizing a controller whereas their pc monitor, customers will see their surroundings straight by way of passthrough and ‘hint’ their boundary proper onto the ground (a sensible enchancment over the prior technique).

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All issues thought of, for individuals who are used to Oculus’ first PC VR headset, Rift S’s visuals aren’t going to really feel like a step into next-gen, however they’re an enchancment.

Head & Controller Monitoring

Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 17Photograph by Highway to VR

Maybe the one largest level of distinction between Rift S and the unique Rift is the monitoring system.

Rift ‘Constellation’ Monitoring (outside-in)

Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 18Rift’s IR LEDs visualized

The unique Rift makes use of an ‘outside-in’ monitoring system (known as Constellation) that depends on exterior cameras which take a look at glowing lights on the headset and controllers (made invisible through the use of infrared mild) to find out the place of the gadgets. This has proven to be a extremely performant strategy, however provides complexity to the setup as a result of the exterior sensors want to hook up with the host PC and thoroughly positioned. And except customers are prepared to run a USB cable throughout their room for a ‘room-scale’ setup, the default Rift monitoring setup restricts customers to ‘ahead dealing with’ gameplay.

Rift S Perception Monitoring (inside-out)

Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 19Picture courtesy Oculus

Rift S, then again, makes use of an ‘inside-out’ monitoring system (known as Perception) which locations 5 cameras onto the headset itself. The cameras take a look at the world across the person, and pc imaginative and prescient algorithms use the data to find out the place of the headset. The on-board cameras additionally search for glowing lights on the controllers (additionally invisible by way of infrared) to find out their location relative to the headset. An inside-out system like that is vastly extra advanced than the outside-in system of the Rift, and it’s taken corporations like Oculus a number of years to realize the robustness and efficiency wanted to make it work for a VR headset.

Room-scale Out of the Field

The consequence, nevertheless, signifies that Rift S is far simpler to arrange, and now has room-scale monitoring out of the field, which suggests gamers will be extra immersed in some video games by strolling round bigger areas and turning round naturally as an alternative of counting on stick-based turning. Relying upon the sport, having full 360 room-scale monitoring can actually improve immersion ranges (Lone Echo involves thoughts for me).

The precise digicam format on Rift S is much like Quest however has 5 cameras as an alternative of 4, and makes use of a special configuration. As an alternative of cameras mounted on the corners of the headset’s entrance panel, there’s two cameras towards the underside of the entrance panel which face ahead, one digicam on the left and proper of the headset which intention barely downward, and one digicam on high of the headset which faces the ceiling.

Latency & Accuracy

From my hands-on time to date, Rift S monitoring feels practically an identical to Rift in latency and accuracy, although it may need a bit extra jitter. In my time with the headset I noticed zero surprising/sudden head actions, and latency on each my head actions and palms felt very tight.

Nonetheless, when transferring my palms particularly near the headset (like when bringing my controller near my face to have a look at the buttons) they might typically get just a little bit wonky, which makes me assume that there’s one thing of a useless zone for the controllers in the event that they get too near anyone digicam.

Controller Caveats

Oculus Rift S Fingers-on Preview – A Higher, Simpler to Use Rift 20Picture courtesy Oculus

This may not typically be a sensible problem, however you possibly can think about that it might pose an issue in sure recreation interactions like, as an example, a bow recreation the place your string hand naturally pulls close to to 1 facet of your head earlier than releasing, or a recreation the place you deliver objects close to your face (like placing on a hat, consuming a bit of meals, or placing on glasses). Builders who nonetheless need to use these interactions could must make case-by-case changes to ensure they work nicely.

Exterior of the ‘very close to the headset’ bubble, controller monitoring appears to work very nicely for a broad vary of interactions, and monitoring protection for the controllers feels massively improved over the inside-out monitoring on Home windows VR headsets. In fact this comes with the caveat that it’s doable to maneuver the controllers outdoors of the sphere of view of the cameras. In the event you flip your head a method and maintain your arm out the opposite manner, you would possibly find yourself breaking line of sight between the cameras and the controller along with your physique.

The system recovers simply if this occurs momentarily as a result of positional estimation continues to be ongoing by way of an IMU, but when it occurs for prolong durations (like when a member of the press deliberately places their palms behind their again to check the controllers) the controllers finally freeze in place and keep there till their place is reacquired by the cameras.

Oculus readily admits that some poses received’t work, and that can affect some content material over others, however they are saying they’ve designed the system to supply “most compatibility” for present content material.

Over time it’s possible that builders will achieve a eager sense of problematic poses and interactions, and both design fixes that make monitoring occlusion invisible to the play, or keep away from these poses outright.

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Total, Perception looks like a transparent win for the Rift S by way of ease of use and the addition of room-scale monitoring by default—and is notably higher by way of controller monitoring protection than Home windows VR—however doesn’t come with no few caveats. Up to now the problematic edge circumstances for controller monitoring appear pretty innocuous, however this can be deeply content-specific.

Proceed Studying on Web page 2: Ergonomics »