Oculus has provided details on the latest version of its Rift virtual reality headset. The new product features built-in 3D audio support alongside improved ergonomics. Unveiled at the Oculus Connect conference, the company also took the opportunity to detail its enhanced relationship with Unity.
The headline addition here is the inclusion of built-in audio. The headset combines 3D tracking with the University of Maryland’s RealSpace 3D audio technology, with the goal of producing realistic three-dimensional audio that can actually convince the human perception system that it is in the virtual space.
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The company emphasized the importance of matching audio with a virtual space, highlighting the heightened level of immersion this creates. It believes that providing an integrated headset with Crescent Bay will help to standardize 3D audio spatialization, encouraging developers to dedicate more time and money to producing convincing audio experiences.
The updated headset isn’t just about improved audio, but also introduces a new design with "dramatically" improved weight and ergonomics. The company is yet to detail just how much lighter Crescent Bay is compared to the current DK2 model of the Rift, but the design looks more in keeping with the Gear VR, an accessory for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 developed in partnership with Oculus.
Oculus will now be supported in both Free and Pro versions of Unity, and is considered an official platform, meaning that we’ll see dedicated VR add-ons optimizing for stereo imaging, 3D audio and more.
Virtual Reality technology has been gathering steam over the last month, with Samsung announcing its partnership with Oculus on the Gear VR, and Canadian company Vrvana introducing their crowd-funding effort for the ambitious camera-packing Totem headset.
Oculus is yet to announce a release date for the new prototype headset. Based on previous release schedules, and given that you can still pick up the DK2 version of the product, we wouldn’t expect to see Crescent Bay for at least a couple of months.
Source: Oculus VRView gallery - 3 images