Unveiled at the 2018 F8 Facebook developer conference, what's being called the "Half Dome" prototype is expected to one day become the Oculus Rift consumer version 2 (CV2), successor to the CV1 Rift that most of us are using today. Alongside hardware changes to the headset, there were also revealed a number of developments in hand tracking and 3D reconstruction. Here's everything we know so far.
What's new with the Oculus Rift 2?
During the second-day Keynote speech at F8 2018, the "Half Dome" prototype was unveiled as a tool that can handle the Oculus vision of what VR should be. Advancements in visual immersion ― along with better hand tracking and 3D reconstruction ― are required for a compelling VR experience, and Oculus believes the Oculus Rift 2 should be part of the overall solution.
What is Oculus Rift 2?
What's expected to be the next generation of the Oculus Rift is currently still in prototype form, labeled under the name "Half Dome." This is a nod to previous prototypes also named after locations in California; the "Crescent Bay" prototype eventually became the Rift CV1.
It's expected that the Oculus Rift 2 (or Rift CV2) will offer next-gen specs over its predecessor, with a better field of view (FOV), better visual fidelity, improved hand-tracking, and even some facial reconstruction.
What are the differences between Oculus Rift 2 and Oculus Rift CV1?
There are a number of major changes from the Rift CV1 found in the Half Dome prototype. First, and perhaps most impressive, Half Dome features varifocal displays. The Rift CV1 (and most current VR headsets) are using a fixed focal plane, which means the screens inside the headset do not move. Developers usually place objects in the world at about a two-meter distance, and anything you bring closer ― like when you pick up a letter or turn on a virtual PC screen ― can be quite blurry. With a varifocal display, though, the focus can change based on what you're looking at thanks to mechanical movements inside the headset. Yes, the screens physically move in and out, but apparently you shouldn't notice anything while you're in VR thanks to some nifty engineering.
On top of the varifocal displays that appear to offer up a much clearer picture, the FOV has been upped from 100 degrees in the CV1 to 140 degrees. This is a huge advancement, but there's still a lot of room to grow since humans can see up to about 210 degrees. What is equally impressive is how Half Dome is the same size and weight as the Rift CV1 despite all the new tech added to the prototype.
What else is new with Oculus Rift?
Alongside the Half Dome prototype, Oculus also showed off new hand tracking and 3D reconstruction capabilities, which both contribute to the overall future of VR. Controller-less and glove-less hand tracking technology is moving along quickly thanks to assistance from machine learning techniques, though motion controllers should still prove priceless when gaming in VR.
New 3D reconstruction was also demonstrated. A side-by-side comparison of a real room and a room reconstructed in VR was shown, and they were virtually indistinguishable, even down to mirror reflections. Exactly how these technologies will fit in with the Oculus Rift 2 have yet to be seen, but they're exciting nonetheless.
When does the Oculus Rift 2 launch?
There's still no word from Oculus as to when the next-gen Rift will see a release. Since it's still in prototype form and the Rift CV1 is still a formidable device, I'd hazard a guess and say that it shouldn't be expected until at least 2020.
In a Reddit post shortly after the F8 conference, Nate Mitchell, head of Rift at Oculus, mentioned that a lot of the tech demonstrated is a long way from seeing the light of day in a consumer version. Take it how you want, but don't hold your breath for a surprise new Rift in the following months.
How much does the Oculus Rift 2 cost?
Like the release date, the cost of the next Oculus Rift has yet to be determined. If you're interested in getting into the world of Rift now, the CV1 with Touch controllers included can be had for about $400.