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VR vs. Crescent Bay

For a company that proudly presents itself as an open organisation, Oculus VR is very good at keeping its cards close to its chest. In an industry where press leaks occur in the build up to seemingly every major event, here’s a company that shares its progress at regular intervals, makes its hardware readily available, and yet keeps everyone guessing with what it will do next. Practically no one knew what to expect from CEO Brendan Iribe’s keynote that kicked off the second day of the Oculus Connect developer conference in Hollywood, California on 20th September 2014. Would we finally see the consumer Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD)? Was the rumoured internally-developed controller finally to be announced? As it turns out, it wasn’t either of those two.

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Instead, Oculus VR lifted the lid on its latest prototype, Crescent Bay. Boasting a higher refresh rate, higher resolution, full 360 degree tracking and integrated audio, this wasn’t the consumer Oculus Rift but instead another major step towards it. And while it was certainly exciting to see the technology advance beyond the already-impressive second development kit (DK2), the company’s cryptic approach to sharing details and lack of news about the future has presented virtual reality (VR) fans and developers with a whole new set of questions. So, where does Crescent Bay leave us?

Oculus VR introduced its last prototype, Crystal Cove, back in January 2014 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Following that there was a gap of just under two months before it revealed DK2 to the world at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March. From there VR fans and developers had to demonstrate patience as the kit didn’t start shipping until late July, a good four months after the reveal. That’s a total of seven months overall. Can we expect a similar sort of roadmap to play out following the reveal of Crescent Bay?

A few weeks ago VRFocus heard from multiple sources that Oculus VR is looking to launch the consumer version of the Oculus Rift in Beta form as early as April 2015. Obviously the new prototype forms the foundation of Oculus VR’s next release, whatever that may be. That’s not to say that the device won’t be iterated on with more prototypes of course, but you can expect Crescent Bay to be to the next release what Crystal Cove was to DK2.

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We’re currently seven months away from April 2015. Labelling the similar time scale to the roadmap from Crystal Cove to DK2 release is obviously little to go on, but consider that we’re just three and a half months away from CES 2015 on 6th – 9th January and things fall into place a little more. This year Oculus VR debuted Crystal Cove at the show in Las Vegas, could it possibly reveal the consumer Oculus Rift at next year’s show?

Again, this is complete speculation on VRFocus’ part, although a feasible roadmap to the consumer release can be seen from there. From CES, there would be at least a four month wait to the release of the consumer HMD, much like from the GDC DK2 reveal to the DK2 release. GDC 2015 would also take place within that gap, although perhaps that might be where the company chooses to make its reveal. That is of course if Oculus VR even needs an industry show to reveal the device; it just announced Crescent Bay on its own terms, might it do the same for the consumer Oculus Rift?

With Oculus VR, it’s hard to tell. After all, the company keeps its cards close to its chest. Crescent Bay might be another step towards the full release of the Oculus Rift, but more than anything it’s left us wanting to hear about that release more than ever. VRFocus will continue to follow Oculus VR’s progress on the journey to launch, reporting back with any further updates.