Lab issues call for Oculus Rift beta testers

secondlifeOn Wednesday March 12th, Linden Lab issued a call for people willing to help beta test the upcoming Oculus Rift enabled SL viewer.

The call, made via a blog post, reads in full:

The Oculus Rift offers exciting possibilities for Second Life – the stereoscopic virtual reality headset brings a new level of immersion to our 3D world, making Second Life a more compelling experience than ever before.

Though a consumer version of the headset isn’t available yet, we’ve been working with the development kit to integrate the Oculus Rift with the Second Life Viewer. We now have a Viewer ready for beta testers, and if you have an Oculus Rift headset, we’d love to get your feedback.

If you have the Oculus Rift development hardware and would like to help us with feedback on the Viewer integration, please write to sl_oculus_beta@lindenlab.com to apply for the limited beta.

Oculus Rift: the headset-enabled viewer is now ready for beta testing
Oculus Rift: the headset-enabled viewer is now ready for beta testing

As noted in the post, the headset isn’t commercially available as yet, but the pre-release version with the Oculus Software Development Kit is currently available for $300.00 directly from Oculus VR themselves. If you have a kit already, now is the time to sign-up!

As I reported in December, VoidPointer Linden had indicated that the work on making the viewer operate with the Oculus Rift headset was “feature complete”. This fuelled an expectation that a project viewer might make an appearance either before, or soon after Christmas, 2013.

However, Oz Linden shortly afterwards indicated the “soon” might be something of a relative term. Since both of those announcements, the Rift viewer has been working its way through the Lab’s QA process, and while it didn’t appear as quickly as perhaps VoidPointer had hoped. Even so, when commenting on the status of the viewer back in December, he was able to confirm a few things about it:

  • The same viewer can be used in both a “normal mode” and a “Rift mode”
  • There will be no apparent changes to the viewer / UI when in “normal mode”
  • Frame rates when in “Rift look” will be very much down to the user’s own hardware  (unsurprisingly).

Elsewhere, it had been indicated that when in “Rift Look”, UI menus may float over the user’s head, keeping them out of the field of view until such time as needed. This was certainly the case when Simon Linden tried the viewer earlier in “013, but it is unclear if this approach has been carried forward – so that’s one for the beta testers to discover.

There is no timescale for how long the beta testing will last, but this announcement brings official support for Occulus Rift (users can also use David Rowe’s CtrlAltStudio viewer, which provides preliminary support for the headset) a step closer to reality.