When the new generation of virtual reality headsets got started back in 2015, most consumers were understandably skeptical. VR, much like flying cars or self-lacing shoes, sounded like an awesome future technology that wasn’t yet possible in the real world, and the technical and financial limitations of the time meant that most headsets were both pricey and excessively finicky. However, tech has come quite a long way in four years, and Oculus has unveiled the next evolution in the VR space with their upcoming Rift S.
Revealed at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, the Oculus Rift S will naturally be an enhancement of the standard Oculus model that has been available in some form for quite some time now. The original Oculus Rift was among the first wave of high-quality consumer-grade virtual reality headsets to hit the scene, and it represented a new way forward in terms of media consumption technology.
That said, the Oculus Rift was bulky, awkward, and required a host of cables and external sensors to properly operate. What’s more, it required a generous amount of room to function adequately, and not everyone could spare all of the requisite space. Fortunately, the Rift S will remedy most of these issues by eliminating the need for non-onboard sensors. This will both considerably cut down on setup time and eliminate the issue of inadequate or inaccurate room scale.
Oculus also stated that this new model’s display will output at 1280 x 1440 per eye, a slight but important increase from the base model’s 1080 x 1200 per-eye resolution. That may not seem like a major increase, but it could go a long way in terms of curing many of the headaches associated with the smaller display. The early Oculus Rift headsets were also known for producing a screen door effect, which was caused by upscaled images distorting and allowing viewers to see in between individual pixels.
This new Oculus Rift redesign is set to release at some point this spring — hopefully sooner than later — and will retail for a penny shy of $400. While that certainly sounds expensive, it’s a major reduction when compared to the original line of headsets, which were known to cost upwards of $800 in some instances.
This, in combination with Oculus’ ever-improving Asynchronous Spacewarp technology, means that VR is becoming more viable by the day. Until recently, gaming in virtual reality was considered to be nothing more than a dazzling distraction enabling a bunch of low-substance tech demos to clutter the Steam storefront. Beat Saber helped to change some of that perception, and, now that Oculus’ technology will be more accessible than ever, this tech may be entering into a new renaissance.