Oculus Rift in Second Life

I am hearing lots about the Oculus Rift VR Headset. Some think interfacing it to SL would be a great addition to Second Life™. If you have seen the granny video, you have an idea of how impressive Ocular Rift can be.

Granny Video –  03:40 minutes.

There is no doubt she is impressed.

I can somewhat expect older people to be impressed by technology. Younger people are a bit more ho-hum about tect. So, this dude (Cymatic Bruce @ YouTube) being impressed shows it is not just a generational thing.

From the series of Cymatic Bruce’s Requests for the Rift – 08:20 minutes – Series of videos – Warning the first video in the series usually is unavailable.

If you search YouTube for ‘Oculus Rift’ you’ll find hundreds of these types of videos.

The Oculus Rift people think Second Life is an excellent candidate for the Oculus. I think if one looks at it as a replacement for the computer monitor then they are right. Since the Oculus is a VR headset with some control features, some have thought of it as a game controller for Second Life. I am not so sure that will work well. But, I do think the Granny and Cymatic videos show that a hybrid control is very likely.

Today that likelihood came closer to your desktop. Jo Yardley on Facebook linked to a post by Cracker Hax in the SL Forum:  Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset Second Life Viewer Development. The opening post is here. This thread started in January and runs to recent posts.

You can see the development progressing through the thread. By the 3rd page there are images. These are the basic stereo-pair type images. If you noticed the screen images in the Cymatic videos, you saw the image distortion used to convey a realistic world view to the Oculus Rift headset being curved. Each eye’s image is warped to provide the spherical image mapping to a flat surface that the eyes need for a near perfect illusion. Think of the world maps where a globe is flattened to a wall map, except we are looking at the inside of the globe.

The series of images in the post have some that can be used with a stereoscope. So, if you have or know how to make a stereoscope or you know how to spread your eye focus (the opposite of crossing your eyes) you can sort of see what they are seeing with the Oculus. (Stereo viewing) You will see the somewhat flattened 3D view as the magic of the spherical to flat mapping is missing.

Griff Golding points out there are some issues with the images and questions where some can be used for seeing 3D. But, seeing these in 3D is not the point. The point is someone (mostly Cracker Hax) is working on adapting a viewer to use Oculus.

Cracker is using Firestorm viewer code. I hope he knows that the KirstenLee Viewer was the top 3D viewer for SL while it was being developed. The code was alpha or beta level for both anaglyphic and shutter-glasses 3D, but it was mostly working.

You’ll hear some saying that SL does not support 3D. That is not true. First be sure you understand what they are saying. There is a difference in whether one is saying the SL tech doesn’t support it or the Lab doesn’t. The term ‘Second Life’ is ambiguously used by those less familiar with SL to mean the game and/or the company.

There is also a difference in how the word ‘support’ is used too. For some there is no support if there is no ongoing visible effort or that isn’t a button in the controls labeled 3D. For others it just means they support an idea and feel favorable toward it, no action or participation required.

In 2011 KirstenLee was developing 3D for anaglyphic and shutter-glasses 3D. See: KirstenLee Lee Viewer S21(8) RC 1 Release Review. Also, nVidia’s 3D Glasses software had a setting for Second Life. So, most of the things needed to provide 3D to the Oculus software are there.

Cracker thinks it is really the Lab’s responsibility to develop an SL interface for the Oculus Rift. (Reference) Whether it is a ‘responsibility’ is debatable. What isn’t debatable is the time it will take if people wait for the Lab to write the code: a l… o… n… g… time. It is not yet on their priority list. Or if it is, they are treating it as a corporate secret and not saying a word, may be thinking they are lulling the competition into a false sense of having time.

The advantage of the free market is those that think something is a good idea can invest their time and money in it. Those that don’t, can invest in what they like or think important. History shows this path as is the fastest most innovative way to move creative talent and technology forward.

Since the Oculus is a viewer side Feature, the viewer Policy should not matter. It only changes what you see. Sort of like whether you have a 15 inch or 32 inch computer screen. So, third party viewer developers should be free to do whatever they want with the Oculus.

The current thinking by developers is that the user interface for SL will have to change. I keep thinking mouse and keyboard. But, it goes beyond that. Think about trying to read the freaking panels in the viewer, like chat.

If you watched the Cymatic video I linked to, you may have noticed his comments about the mouse cursor. It pops out of the 3D world. It’s there. But, how do you use the mouse in REAL 3D space not the 2D screen pseudo 3D?

If you mouse over something far away, should the cursor get smaller? With a good 3D cursor, could you move it behind something? How would you tell the cursor to go behind something? Move in the ‘Y-direction’?

In SL the screen is z-axis up and x-axis left-right. The Y-axis is a sort of pseudo direction we control by where we click. We really don’t have to tell the viewer to move the mouse cursor in the Y-direction. The Oculus will likely change that.


Another place where people are excited by the Oculus is in the field of architecture. There are a number of architectural firms that use Second Life and OpenSim for demonstrating their designs. AutoCAD has a feature for import from and export to Second Life.

Early adopters in the field are looking at the Oculus for providing even more impressive demonstrations and walk-through presentations. 

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