Although the Oculus Rift is already gaining a tremendous amount of buzz thanks to two solid showings at E3 2013 and E3 2014, the VR headset is still a growing technology. The folks at Oculus VR know that, developers know that, and even Facebook, who purchased Oculus for $2 billion, know that.
How the technology will continue to grow is a two-part process. Oculus VR will need to improve the design of their headset to decrease latency and increase resolution; while developers will need to craft interactive experiences that leverage the Oculus Rift's strengths and prove VR is more than just a gimmick. And while we are nearing those two goals, there is still a lot of work to do.
This week, however, the Oculus Rift is taking the next big step towards entering the retail market with the release of of Development Kit 2. Some 45,000 units are said to be shipping to developers within the next few months, starting with a 10,000-unit shipment very soon.
Development Kit 2, or DK1, is a refined version of the Crystal Cove prototype shown off at CES earlier this year. It includes a higher resolution screen, lower latency, and a motion tracking system for more realistic movement in 3D space.
The DK2s were out in full force at E3 2014, serving as the primary test platform for almost all Oculus-compatible games. Having not demoed a DK1 it's hard to say how much of an improvement the DK2 is, but the new Rift kit is certainly impressive. More importantly, its improved functionality should inspire developers to craft new and immersive experiences.
To that point we bring word of a new project from fledgling software development company Tool who, in just a short amount of time, were able to create a virtual recreation of South Park for Oculus Rift. As you can see in the video below, this virtual tour puts the player right on the streets of South Park and gives them the freedom to visit all of the town/show's iconic locations.
The folks at Tool were inspired by the recent South Park: The Stick of Truth video game, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, and used that and Season 17 of the show to model their version of South Park. For more on how they built South Park you can visit their site here.
With a firm foundation in place (DK1), it appears Oculus is ready to take the next step towards making VR headsets a reality. They're putting better tools in developers' hands and those developers are finding new ways to leverage this growing technology. VR already has us excited, but we can't wait to see what the next year brings.
Would you be interested in owning an Oculus Rift dev kit? What other movie or TV towns would you like to explore in VR?