[CES 2013] I had heard of that Oculus Rift kickstarter project before, and watching their pitch, I thought that it sounded very promising. I worked for 12 years in the computer graphics industry and tested my share of VR (Virtual Reality) head gear. Pretty much everyone has given up on this, so I wanted to see what these folks could come up to.

For those unfamiliar with Virtual Reality projects, the goal is to create a display that completely immerses the user in a virtual world, by producing an image that fills the field of vision as realistically as possible. Oculus work in stereo 3D and features a wider field of view than competitors, and that’s why it is supposed to be better than previous attempts.

Don’t miss our hands-on review of the Oculus Rift DK2 (aka Crystal Cove) at GDC 2014.At the CES Digital Experience event, I had the opportunity to try Oculus Rift for myself, so here’s my experience with it: The VR head mounted display was still at the prototype stage, and it very roughly looks like the concept presented on the Kickstarter website. There was little to no setup, I just put it on, moved it a little to find a sweet spot where things are in focus, and off I go.

Thanks to the wide field of view, the immersion is total, and you don’t see screen borders. The head motion is properly tracked – as long as you don’t move too fast. The visual quality of the stereo 3D is surprisingly good, and although I used it only for a few minutes, I don’t think that I would get eyestrain within 20-30mns – beyond that, I don’t know and would need to try it for myself. The demo was nice, but when/if commercial games support comes, that’s when the true potential of Oculus Rift will be revealed.

The obvious improvements that can be done to the current hardware is to increase the screen resolution. Right now, things are a bit pixilated, and for the lack of a better comparison, this feels a bit like Nintendo Wii graphics resolution.

Nonetheless, the demo proves that the concept is valid, and while I may not recommend playing Call of Duty with it today because of the potential lag, I believe that World of Warcraft, Skyrim and other slower-paced games may look amazing with Oculus. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story will end.

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