Oculus Rift Redesign
Virtual reality has been begging our acceptance for ages. Why haven't we adopted it yet? High cost, lack of utility and lack of technological development are all factors. As of August 2012 however, Oculus VR successfully broke those barriers and Kickstarted their product to life.
From a functionality standpoint, the Oculus Rift is spectacular. I had the opportunity to visit their headquarters this past summer and was swept away by my incredible experience there. After demoing their newest SDK, I was convinced. Virtual Reality is our future. But in order for widespread adoption they've got to overcome one last obstacle. Design.
We don't like change, that's just human nature. We're quick to adopt what we're accustomed to, quick to deflect anything too far from the norm. As great as the Rift might be, how are we going to start sitting around with big black boxes strapped to our faces? Picture walking into a room, only to see your friends and family sitting around with boxes on their faces. I don't see that being a common scene anytime soon.
I set out to brainstorm objects of familiar nature, objects that strap over our eyes without appearing ridiculous. Two products that appealed to me the most were ski goggles and fighter pilot helmets. Both objects cover the user's eyes, yet don't appear creepy or unusual.
Ultimately I settled for a clean, sleek look. The headset resembles ski goggles, a familiar object, finished with a reflective front. To a passerby, you'd appear to be wearing the world's fanciest goggles on your face. The goal was to balance the streamlined look of a gamer accessory, without over embellishment. This way the product appeals to the gaming audience all the while keeping a universal look for any other VR application.
The VR headset's body has a silicon overmolded finish. This is paired with a glossy, reflective front curvature which represents ski goggles. It's topped off with a sleek bronze chamfer, right along the upper edge. It now looks and feels like a product of our future. A product you'd be proud to own and wear.
Along the side is where you'd find the minimal amount of Oculus branding. The eye logo doubles as an LED indication light, notifying users the unit is on. Observers will know that you're lost to the adventures of a virtual world.
The main design constraint is cramming all the components necessary into the headset. There is ample space in front to place electronics and the PCB, and behind the glossy front face, you can embed necessary IR LEDs. The biggest demand for space comes from the lenses, which require a certain distance from the screen for functionality.
Overall, this was designed with a goal to create a virtual reality headset that the masses would be comfortable adopting. Yes the Oculus may be affordable and powerful, but until it looks like a consumer product, it will be difficult to adapt. The tech is incredible. I hope we'll find the units looking just as glamorous in all our households in the near future.