Oculus Rift surprised the crowds at the Game Developers Conference late last night with the news that it was launching an upgraded yet lower-cost virtual reality development kit based on its Crystal Cove design.
The company's virtual reality headset technology has proven popular since its first development kit went up for sale. Despite an extremely low resolution display which suffered from nausea-inducing motion blur, the $400 kit sold in large enough quantity that production was halted
when critical components were unavailable in sufficient amounts. Now, the company has opened pre-orders for a second-generation version which borrows much of the improvements developed under the codename Crystal Cove
The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2, to give it its full name, swaps out the hard-to-find low-resolution LCD panel for a Full HD OLED version. The result: a much-improved resolution of 960x1080 per eye, a 100-degree field of vision, and an end to the motion blur of the LCD based original. The new kit also comes bundled with an infra-red camera, which offers improved head tracking - including the ability to see when you're leaning forwards or backwards and modify the action accordingly.
Most surprisingly of all, however, is the pricing: while the original development kit sold for $400, the much-improved DK2 is up for pre-order at just $350. Partly this appears to be thanks to a reduction in the support hardware required - although the new model includes a cheap webcam for head tracking, it does away with the dedicated control box of its predecessor in favour of USB and HDMI connections direct to the headset - and partly in response to Sony's announcement of an upcoming VR headset for its PS4 console.
The development kit is available to pre-order now on the official website