Hamlet Au has an article titled: Oculus Rift Integration Coming to Second Life, Linden Lab Staff Confirm (Both Officially and Unofficially). I think in that article and in a previous article (ref) he makes several good points. And, it does look like Oculus Rift (OR) is coming to Second Life™. But, Hamlet doesn’t combine it with the LEAP Motion controller I think is needed to go with OR.
You are not going to be able to get a retail OR headset until at least 2014.
The video shows the OR with an omni-directional treadmill. That is NOT the kind of control system I am hopping for… but it might be good for me… but… how would that work in Zindra?
The real challenge for the Lab is again the viewer. Adding 3D rendering is a bit of a task but that has been done. KirstenLee did that in 2011. The hardware requirement is a step up for the Rift, but nothing onerous. Consider.
The world must be rendered as seen from two cameras, one for each eye. For shutter glasses we need the same render speed the OR will likely need. For shutter glasses a monitor that can display 120 frames per second is needed. My Samsung monitor does 60 fps and looks great, but won’t handle shutter glasses. The OR is going to be two screens. That suggests they only need to render 60 fps each. That is pretty standard tech. So, no big deal getting that.
Still the graphics card has to do the work. But, they were using shutter glasses with NVIDIA 8800 cards. So, my GTX560 can easily handle the graphics. So, again, no big deal. The Lab has a significant audience that can take advantage of the OR tech with existing equipment.
The rub comes in how the viewer handles the user interface. Wearing an OR and using a keyboard and/or mouse seems rather awkward. Using just the OR to control things also seems impractical. How does one tell the OR to keep us moving forward while we looking around at all sorts of interesting things? An omni-directional treadmill? Mouse? Keyboard?
Understanding the scenario in which SL with the OR is going to be used is key too. Your iPad is not going to run SL until we see lots of tech development. So, for the next few years we are likely going to be tied to desktops. Plus, if you think texting and driving are bad… imagine even pedestrians using OR… OMG!
If you watched the Team Fortress video at the top, you saw the omni-directional treadmill being used with the Rift. Considering that a significant part of the existing SL user base has mobility challenges, that is probably a poor choice.
Other Control Devices
This is an interesting device that is expected to retail at US$150. I think it could be fun to use with SL. I wouldn’t be able to have anything spill-able anywhere near me… but, that is probably true of me with a Rift and LEAP controller too.
But, I am voting for LEAP Motion. Check this out:
A LEAP Motion controller is US$70. So, this looks like a good option for an advanced SL user interface controller. Combine that with a rumored retail price of US$300 for Oculus Rift. That is doable.
So What’s the Rub?
I think the viewer’s users interface is where the Lab is going to have to be coming up with innovative ideas for the user interface to make this work. All those panels in the viewer… inventory, friends, chat… these have to work with whatever they work out.
Think of the pinch and spread gestures we use with iPad’s and phones now. Think of how many more gestures we will need the computers to understand with Rift and LEAP…
This new user interface thing is where Apple has always excelled. If the Lab can match that level of creativity, SL may become a killer app. If I were Rod, I would find out who the team members were that created the iPhone/iPad UI and steal them away.
Building an interface is the challenge and time consuming. It will be costly and require manpower. All these priorities for development in SL contend for staff’s time and company resources. But, I still want the Mesh Deformer. But, it might be OK to get the Rift first… but that is like 1 or 2 years away… Geez! Decisions, decisions…
Liability and Problems
There is a health consideration in regard to the Rift and 3D. Last December I wrote: Is 3D Safe for Kids. It isn’t. The Rift is also likely to be a problem too.
Movies max out at 3 hours and average about 90 minutes. Gamers are nuts and may play for days. This will aggravate the visual problems encountered with what I’ll call synthetic 3D and distorted depth perception experienced in movies. Those problems from movies are just starting to surface. How much more pronounced with they be with the Rift?
Like in the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates, mixing VR and RL is going to be more and more of a problem.
We will likely find ways to deal with these problems too. We always do. The free market is amazing. We just need to get more people signed on to the real Pro-Choice ideal of letting people be free to actually chose what they do.