Today I send an email to Linden Lab asking them how things were going on the Oculus Rift front as I wanted to know if some of the rumours flying around were true.
Especially a comment on my blog by Inara Pey recently made me want to find out a few things for sure.
I mostly wanted to know about the User Interface (UI), as that is where most of the problems are expected and it will be interesting to see how Linden Lab (LL) is going to solve these.
I mentioned that I heard that LL was working on floating menus, so they would be where you would normally not look but by simply looking up these menus could appear.
LL:You’ve heard correctly. In our current design, the menus float just outside the user’s field of view, and it works quite well. The UI also provides an anchor / point of reference that helps to mitigate some of the nausea that people sometimes experience when using the Oculus Rift.
I had something like this in mind, I think I mentioned it in my blog before.
By having the menus inworld as 3d floating objects, you could access them quite easily.
I also thought further into the future and mentioned that you could then perhaps operate the menus with your virtual hand, bypassing the keyboard completely.
I am not sure how it works now but I assume that you simply look up, the menu appears and you then choose with your mouse.
Either way it is good to hear that it works quite well although it is still a bit difficult to imagine.
When I am looking up at the 1:1 scale Zeppelin in 1920s Berlin, will menus pop down all the time?
I also asked about how they will implement chatting, this is of course extremely important for us and hard to imagine how it will work.
LL:As for chatting, text chat still works as well as voice. We suspect that voice will become the preferred method for Rift users to communicate in SL, due to the fact that they won’t be able to see their keyboards (for obvious reasons).
Unfortunately that doesn’t really tell us how it will work, but as expected they think voice will become used by more people.
I hope they improve it a bit first, because every time I use it (almost never) I hear people with cheap headsets, a tv and barking dogs in the background.
Of course that is mostly a problem users are causing themselves, but it isn’t always very realistic to hear that coming from a person who is not that near.
But it could be that I just need to adjust my settings a bit better, as I said, I never use voice.
I don’t mind using it but I know many do.
And some of us can’t type blind (although you should learn!), so it remains an issue to allow SL users to type on their keyboard while wearing the Oculus Rift.
I wonder if my idea of a floating inworld virtual keyboard could work, I think it could.
LL:So far, the results are incredibly encouraging. Even the most mundane content inworld springs to life through the Rift.
That sounds very exciting and this makes it even harder for us to wait even longer.
And of course, that brings us to Rod Humble’s comment recently that the Oculus Rift enabled viewer would come at the end of the summer.
LL:We can’t share a target release date just yet, but the project is coming along nicely, and we’ll certainly keep you posted.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that the ‘end of summer’ date was a bit optimistic, but to be honest, Rod never mentioned which summer…
Either way, it is moving along and all seems to be going well.
So, although I promised not to harass LL too often, it might be a good idea to start gathering some questions on the Oculus Rift subject that I can perhaps ask them next time.
If you have a question about the Oculus Rift in Second Life, the progress, the viewer, the UI, or anything related, post it in the comment section!
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