In a revealing statement on Reddit, Alan Yates, a Valve employee who works closely on the company’s Lighthouse tracking system, claims that the Oculus Rift headset is largely derived from Valve’s research.

Back when Oculus launched the original Rift DK1 Kickstarter campaign in 2012, it looked as if the new company had won a formidable ally in its bid to bring virtual reality to the masses. Valve, the gaming giant behind Half Life, Portal, Steam, and much more, endorsed the project in Oculus’ campaign video, with Valve President and Owner Gabe Newell even making a rare appearance on camera saying of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and the VR challenge “if anyone’s going to tackle this set of hard problems, we think that Palmer’s gonna do it…”

palmer-luckey-with-gabe-newell-and-michael-abrash
Left to right: Michael Abrash (former Valve employee, now Oculus Chief Scientist), Palmer Luckey (Founder of Oculus), Gabe Newell (Head of Valve)

While there was collaboration early on, a rift seemed to form between the two companies following Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014. Around that same time, several key employees working on VR at Valve joined up with Oculus.

Since then, both Oculus and Valve have taken very separate paths along the road to consumer virtual reality, with any hint of that early common ground now seemingly vanished in the wake of a burgeoning battle to be the leading VR platform on PC. But that path is perhaps not as diverse as we originally thought.

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Alan Yates, a Valve employee who has worked extensively on the company’s Lighthouse tracking system, has commented publicly and candidly stating that the foundation of the Oculus Rift is based on ideas lifted directly from an early research prototype that Valve had shared with Oculus. Commenting on the HTC Vive section or Reddit, Yates asserted:

Alan Yates, Chief Pharologist at Valve
Alan Yates, ‘Chief Pharologist’ at Valve

While that is generally true in this case every core feature of both the Rift and Vive HMDs are directly derived from Valve’s research program. Oculus has their own CV-based tracking implementation and frensel lens design but the CV1 is otherwise a direct copy of the architecture of the 1080p Steam Sight prototype Valve lent Oculus when we installed a copy of the “Valve Room” at their headquarters. I would call Oculus the first SteamVR licensee, but history will likely record a somewhat different term for it…

The “Valve Room” Yates refers to was a proof-of-concept VR system developed by Valve which, for many who experienced it, was the tipping point in believing just immersive and important VR could become. Granted, the elaborate setup was far from consumerized.

valve-vr-hmd-sdd
Valve’s prototype VR headset featuring two low-persistence displays, as seen in the “Valve Room”

We know that at a certain juncture in the Oculus Rift’s development, some key design changes were made. The Rift DK1’s original single display, fed with split, stereoscopic imagery seen by each eye, was one of the reasons why the headset was cheap to manufacture and offer to backers, at least in comparison to anything remotely comparable to what had come before. Its aspheric lenses too, provided the large field of view that wowed those who tried early prototypes, key to the original DK1.

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Then, after multiple iterations using those key principles, across multiple publicly displayed (and presumably countless private) prototypes, in 2014 the company changed design direction quickly. The Crescent Bay prototype, which appeared at Oculus’ first developer conference ‘Connect’ in September of 2014, sported two displays (one for each eye) and a different style of lens, along with the low-persistence display technology that made its public debut on the ‘Crystal Cove’ prototype earlier that year.

Of course, during the early unofficial partnership between Oculus and Valve, much will have been exchanged between both parties, and it’s impossible to verify precisely how much cross pollination occurred.

It’s worth pointing out however that there are many more hardware factors that differentiate Oculus’ and Valve’s approach to their final consumer headset designs. The Rift’s industrial and ergonomic design alone is clearly completely divergent from HTC’s Vive for example and the inclusion of high quality headphones mounted on the Rift itself, along with a dedicated audio hardware pipeline are unique. Also, as Yates himself points out, although both the Vive and the Rift share the basic principal of Fresnel lenses, Oculus’ are entirely custom to the Rift.

Update 24/05/2016: I felt like the original piece ended abruptly with not enough context or credit to Oculus’ final design for the Rift so added an additional final paragraph above.

  • murtwitnessone

    As long as people do not start suing each other and holding up the release of these devices, all is fine. This technology has been delayed long enough.

    • Gerald Terveen

      100% agree on that!

    • Kristoph

      It’s already released. The tech is out right now, and all the shady things Oculus/Facebook has done is coming to light. They are basically a crew of scumbags at this point.

      • Gerald Terveen

        don’t take it too literally – I am sure he means the overall market introduction :)
        and that one could still be hindered if we see some patent war starting.

      • Jack McCauley

        Look-I know those guys and they are not Shady. All of the things you saw happen with the launch were sadly avoidable but to say they lied or did things underhanded is just not in the character of the company or Brendan or anyone else there. To say they screwed things up by being inexperienced is more true than any of the other things I’ve read out there in guessing land. DK1, DK2 went off without a hitch and in record time. CV1, well that’s another story. It looks to me like they shifted some management around which was long overdue perhaps that would have avoided the launch problems. Or I can say it WOULD have avoided the launch problems. What you are experiencing with the product launch is the result of newness to the world of consumer electronics. Not being able to *sense* when things are not going right. Every problem when you are inexperienced is either a huge problem or no problem at all. It just comes with time and making mistakes quite frankly. I reject the notion that FB is some sort of evil planet . It’s run by imperfect people who make mistakes sometimes. That’s just the way it is. Look at EA for instance.

        • crim3

          Let’s hope, then, that they are trying to turn PC’s into locked-down consoles in the name of user convenience because of their inexperience; and not giving the option to the users to refuse sending use statistics for that same reason (and not because personal data trading, anonymized or not, is becoming one of the biggest bussines in the world and they want that data at all cost. Ah, no, user convenience again).

        • JoeD

          Give me a break. Luckey claimed they would do nothing to keep people from playing games on other hardware, low and behold they’re at it. He also made promises of price he couldn’t keep. That’s just two, there’s a hell of a lot more. Go onto Reddit since you seem to have a very short memory.

          • Graham J

            He had to change because he’s not the leader anymore. That’s what happens when you sell out.

        • Jim Bond

          Whew. Thanks for clearing this up! For a second there I thought this was all about Oculus making poor business decisions based on their wanting to be the Apple of VR at the expense of Luckey’s original vision of inexpensive VR for all. /s

        • Gerald Terveen

          “If customers buy a game from us, I don’t care if they mod it to run on whatever they want. As I have said a million times (and counter to the current circlejerk), our goal is not to profit by locking people to only our hardware … The software we create through Oculus Studios (using a mix of internal and external developers) are exclusive to the Oculus platform, not the
          Rift itself.”

          That is a direct quote from Palmer! He even calls all those that say it will be otherwise circlejerks (indirectly). I still believe Palmer. I do believe he did not lie, I believe he did not know better.

          But the result is the same – Oculus Founder says they won’t close the platform to one headset and when the time comes Oculus closes the platform to one headset.

          I have never been a friend of exclusives – I just have accepted them as an evil I can not prevent. After decades of buying all consoles it made me go PC only in the end.

          Now Oculus is trying to build walled gardens on PC … and if you think that this will not lead to a constant outrage from a huge part of the community I believe you are mistaken.

          And I do not care if Palmer lied to us, or suits lied to Palmer or if Palmer was just under a wrong impression and Oculus decided to let that comment stand uncorrected (like they did with “ballpark”).

          And “That’s just the way it is” has never been a valid argument point in my book. I work hard to fight against this kind of behavior by making what I consider sensible comments on why it makes more sense to support the Steam ecosystem for users (mostly to avoid brand lock). And with enough doing the same “the way it is” might change into “the way it should be” … and I am not talking about imperfect humans becoming perfect, I am talking about imperfect messaging being corrected, not ignored.

          source of the quote: https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/3vl7qe/palmer_luckey_on_twitterfun_fact_nintendo_doesnt/cxr6rid

          • beestee

            RE: Exclusives are a necessary evil…

            Why is it only considered evil once a game is complete? When you see news headlines like “Big Company X dedicates 10 million dollars to spur VR development”…did anyone care to point out the evil back then? Would half of the VR titles even exist if that carrot was never put out there?

            Also, why is it so hard to believe that Oculus just doesn’t have the resources to dedicate to third party hardware support at launch? Could Oculus not still make good on those words eventually?

          • Gerald Terveen

            “… did anyone care to point out the evil back then?”

            Duh … yeah! Plenty. What do you think people are stupid? And Valve is demonstrating it is not a “necessary” evil … it is just evil.

          • beestee

            Nobody is going to say no to millions being invested in VR development. Certainly not I, even if it is only to the benefit of a competing platform. I will jump platforms in an instant if I can’t get what I want from what I have.

            Valve stands to make a little extra money from pointing fingers at Oculus Home in these early days. Oculus has an uphill battle here, no doubt, but I will not relent to the idea that Valve is completely pure in motive and more deserving of my money. Both are businesses and both are looking out for the same thing.

            Has Oculus said that they are not adding third party HMD support, or is that just assumed? Why would they not take money from Vive users if they had the capacity to do so? There has to be more at play here than any of us can see.

          • Gerald Terveen

            stop with the black and white thinking … we are not only demanding extremes or saying it is all evil/bad/great/pure … and Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey made a very clear comment on them not blocking third party HMD support:
            https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/3vl7qe/palmer_luckey_on_twitterfun_fact_nintendo_doesnt/cxr6rid

            Nobody is demanding official support (though that would be nice to have). And nobody is complaining about something breaking accidentally. They are complaining that they are acting exactly as predicted – despite Palmer calling those making the predictions pretty much circlejerks.

      • murtwitnessone

        Yes, the device has been released but it has been slow for those who want one or even try one out. I have been waiting for someone to have a place to try one out. I have already tried out the Vive but cannot try out the Rift because nobody has one here to try out. I want to see if it is going to be worth the large investment I would have to make to own one.

    • JustNiz

      Dude I’ve had a Vive for like 2 weeks now.

      • Psycold

        3 for me. Also, fuck Oculus.

      • murtwitnessone

        I do not. Like the Oculus, there is a long waiting list to obtain one. The problem for the Vive is the same for the Oculus in that they are quite expensive both for the device and the computer needed to use it. I was disappointed with the Vive in that the quality was not what I expected for a device that is so expensive.

        • JustNiz
          • Bryan Ischo

            To be fair, I read that that store sold out in like 30 minutes. So everyone after the first 12 people or so who were able to walk into that store in Sweden are back in the “long waiting list to obtain one”.

            (the waiting list isn’t that long though; I got mine in about a month and I wasn’t even a first week pre-order; my friend ordered one in April and he’s gotten his already, etc)

          • Gerald Terveen

            That is just in Sweden though. But the online orders are filled a lot faster these days – doubt there are many that wait longer than 2 weeks from order to arrival. :)

          • ummm…

            that store needs to be renovated.

        • Bryan Ischo

          It’s not that expensive. Many/most consumer electronics cost as much or more. Mobile phones, when the cost is not hidden by monthly charges, are nearly as expensive. Televisions are much more expensive. Computers are more expensive. I’ve read about people paying $300 for high quality headphones. And yet an entirely new and feature-rich technology costing a mere $800 is too expensive???

          • ummm…

            thank you for putting it into that light. Why I haven’t thought about it in that way Idunno. im going to go tell my girlfriend this and maybe she will understand…*inaudible speaking*….she told me she is tired of me talking about my vive and too leave her alone until Law and Order is over.

    • George Bush

      Nice editorial too. Competition pushes technology further. Can’t wait until Nvidia, Google, and who knows what other big players enter the scene.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Google will not do a consumer headset themselves (with that I mean a real HMD with fixed displays, not a cheap plastic headset where you put a smartphone in.. I don’t think NVidia will release their own HMD either, but time will tell..

    • MR Not Dux OSAR

      Yesterday we announced that the ZeniMax Media v. Oculus VR trial
      had officially begun in Dallas, TX. For those unaware, the court case
      is regarding the fact that ZeniMax claims that the Rift was created with
      the use of stolen technology from ZeniMax employees

      Let the suing begin.

  • Noxas

    I don’t really believe that, like really, “every core feature”. There are defiantly improvements like Asynchronous time warp and the dual displays but Oculus still did their own tracking, audio pipeline, improved upon Asynchronous time warp to make it usable (Something which valve still hasn’t made possible with Vive) and made a proper consumer iteration of the device which includes new ergonomic technology. I still wish there was a better partnership between Valve and Oculus and saying crap like this doesn’t help.

    • Jack McCauley

      Think Mr. Yates drank too much at the Maker Fair.

    • Gerald Terveen

      “culus has their own CV-based tracking implementation” … that is him saying they did their own tracking. ATW is a software feature.
      But I do believe you have a valid point on the audio – but not the 3D (which is software again), but that the headphones are part of the HMD (which is still the most tempting feature for me as soon as they have Touch out).

      • Kristoph

        What should be tempting you is a DRM free platform without the invasive nature of Facebook breathing down your neck.

        And maybe you have a soul and want to support the sharing and promotion of VR as a whole not starting a console war that constantly hinders advances and generally screws over the communities.

        • Noxas

          To be honest Valve and HTC did nothing until recently to help the VR Games development industry. Oculus spent 3 pain stacking years putting everything they had on the line to develop the Dev Kits at cost and foster a community of developers. Valve and HTC make money on that effort for every headset and game you buy to play. I wouldn’t describe supporting Oculus as soulless. Oculus unfortunately is at a disadvantage because it needs to make money through it’s software store. Steam would obviously be a better platform than Oculus Home for every reason except better transitions between games. Unless Oculus jacked up the price of the Rift, they need to make money through software for the moment.

          • JustNiz

            >> To be honest Valve and HTC did nothing until recently to help the VR Games development industry

            Thats so NOT true. Look at all the work that went into the OpenVR standard and software libraries, and working with engine developers to do things like native OpenVR support in UT4, and supporting VR in steam, and under Linux.

          • Gerald Terveen

            Not to mention the research that went into engine optimizations :)

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Oh bullshit, it isn’t a FACT the whole foundation of the oculus rift is based on ideas lifted directly from an early research prototype.. it’s just something this VALVE employee claims, also let’s not forget some of the actual VALVE VR employees left valve for Oculus, so yeah, they would also have brought some of their experiences with them (that’s normal when you go to another employer)..
            You do know OpenVR is only open in it’s name, it’s not actual Open.. And you do know Oculus also worked with engine developers to get native support for the OculusSDK, which is the base of the Oculus platform, and it would be possible for other headset manufacturers to also support the Oculus Platform if they want to..
            And you do know everything valve does is for the benefit of their Steam platform, which is their goldmine… For them it’s opening up markets so developers will rather put their games on the steam platform, and that’s how Valve makes their money..

          • Gerald Terveen

            How very ignorant of you :)
            Valve did a ton and they shared the knowledge they gained freely with Oculus, demonstrating the direction VR is taking to developers … did they build a dev kit? No … but they supported the company that did … little did they know where that would lead.

          • Noxas

            I meant game developers specifically. I mean there are just no good games without the actual dev kits. I understand Epic, the Unity guys, Oculus and Valve have put a lot of work into making it workable.

          • Gerald Terveen

            And as a game developer I can tell you I am very happy Valve developed low persistence – and I am also happy that Oculus used that Valve research to give me DK2.

            I do not say one party did it all alone and the other did nothing. Every party had their roles to play. That Valve did not build dev kits does not mean that they did nothing.

            I loved Oculus and Valve in the DK1 and DK2 era. But in the current situation my love has been going down little by little.

            Things Valve also did not was creating the illusion the DK1 would be used to build commercial VR titles and be followed by a consumer kit. Valve also did not tell me that if by the end of 2015 there is no consumer Rift something must have gone horribly wrong.

            This is all not black and white – this has many shades.

          • Noxas

            Absolutely, I developed a few things in Unity back in DK1 days. Only waiting on touch controllers while I work in Unreal. I just think too many people are being too critical of Oculus. You have to put yourself in their shoes and figure out how to still keep their business going and supporting what they have helped create so far in terms of the game ecosystem. Controller based VR gaming was one of them.

          • Gerald Terveen

            Well – right now you have to wonder what they are going for in the first place. First I thought they want to be a hardware manufacturer making excellent headset. Valve did too and helped them as best the could.
            Then it turns out they want to be a distribution platform too and Valve obviously did no longer help the competition (not to mention that Oculus snatched away Valve staff after the help … not a nice move).
            And now they are doing so many different things that you have to wonder what they actually plan!

            I have a feeling they will go down with a lot of irons in the fire, but not a single working sword forged.

          • JustNiz

            Maybe if Oculus reversed direction on screwing their own customer base by locking them into walled gardens, always-on spying software, ridiculous EULA terms and now DRM we’d have some more sympathy for their supposed sincerity. You can talk about root causes and good intentions all you want but its their end actions that matter, and are all the rest of the world has to go on in showing us what they’re really thinking. You’ve only got to look at the selfish/abusive way that Facebook already operates with peoples data/rights to know that this was going to be pretty much inevitable with the Rift too under Zuckerberg’s ownership.

          • Sam Kennedy

            That is just false, Valve had people working on AR, at the time the rift was first being shown, by Michael Abrash (who is /was very close with John Carmack) before or around the Time the kickstarter was first announced (early to mid 2012) Valve quickly pivoted to VR. So as Companies they have been working on VR for the same amount of time, obviously some work was done by Palmer and Carmack before then but at the time Oculus was founded and started that Kickstarter Valve was starting work on VR as well. It could have been even before the kickstarter I am basing this on a new york times article from mid 2012 that shows a Valve VR prototype and talks about Michael Abrash and VR. I am assuming they where working on it before the article came out.

          • KT

            Assuming the New York Times article you’re referring to is the one with the image of Gordon Stoll wearing a headset, that was one of the AR prototypes. The VR work hard barely started at that time.

          • Bryan Ischo

            Well, Valve/HTC …

            – Made a better VR experience, which will do more to further the adoption of VR than all of the pre-release developer goodwill put together

            – Are so far refusing to engage in shenanigans that would stifle usability of the initial generation of VR devices

            – Sent out development kits just like Oculus did, to help developers get going on the platform well before release

            – Helped Oculus with some design of their product (before the split)

            Also you do realize that developing dev kits and putting them out “at cost” doesn’t actually … cost you anything, right? That’s what “at cost” means.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            uhh, “at cost” means the cost to produce the hardware itself, so yeah it does cost you money…
            And it depends on what you call a better VR experience, if you want comfort and long sittings, the Vive is far from being the better VR experience.. If it’s roomscale you want, yep, AT THE MOMENT, it’s the better experience, but if you play games like EVE Valkyrie, then you’re certainly better of with the Oculus (comfort is what makes you play longer) (and I’m not even saying anything about the timed exclusive, LOL).. But then again, there are some games on steam which aren’t playable on the Oculus due to it not having the vive motioncontrollers, so there you have the timed exclusives for the vive.. ;)
            And it’s not only Valve who helped Oculus, Oculus also helped valve during that time. And certainly let’s not forget that Oculus helped with the development of the Samsung panels which are used by the vive..

          • Bryan Ischo

            The Vive is perfectly comfortable in my experience, having played it for hours at a time, even my 8 and 9 year old kids have played it for an hour at a time without ever complaining about weight or comfort. The weight difference between the two is absolutely negligeable.

            In the end comfort comes down to personal preference; some will find the Vive more comfortable, some the Rift, but I don’t think there’s any evidence that either is more comfortable for all or most people.

            Not everyone values every experience the same way, but from everything I have read, and I have read A LOT, the Vive is overwhelmingly considered to be the better experience at the moment. That’s why I said it’s “a better VR experience”. The equation will certainly change over time though as the Rift adds features.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Sorry, but your comment on that some find the vive more comfortable is bullshit, EVERYBODY who has used the vive and rift for a while have said the Rift is much more comfortable and better for longer ‘hours’..

          • Bryan Ischo

            Well you’ve devolved into using the term ‘bullshit’ now in multiple posts so I think your useful contributions have ended now. Your siege mentality as a Rift supporter is starting to show through. So I won’t reply to you any more after this, but I will reiterate that not everyone finds the Rift more comfortable. Just go out and read reviews. Some prefer the Rift, some the Vive. If I had to guess a number, I’d say 60% – 70% prefer the Rift. That leaves a significant 30% – 40% who prefer the Vive. Either way, the Vive is not uncomfortable for most people, even those who prefer the Rift. Similarly, the Rift is not uncomfortable for most people, even those who prefer the Vive.

        • Gerald Terveen

          ohh .. I am a developer and using the Vive since last year. I could have applied for a Rift as well, but I have no intention on feeding that platform as I much prefer the positions that Valve represents. :)

          But as a developer I look for the best tool for the job and that means I might switch to the Rift once I can – but without Touch that is not even an option to me right now. And I would just compare it and then decide with what I will stick :)

          • Bryan Ischo

            Your statements are highly incongruent. Just because you are a developer does not mean you get to throw away your moral objections to Oculus’ actions. In fact, as a developer you should be take these things even *more* seriously, because the companies behind the platforms will impact your livelihood, not just which games you can play.

          • Gerald Terveen

            mate I am more than a bit visible in complaining about the positions Oculus takes. Especially the latest round of BS they are trying to sell. ;)

          • Bryan Ischo

            But you “might switch to the Rift once you can”, despite “have no intention on feeding that platform”. This is what I say is incongruous. But I might be misunderstanding you.

          • Gerald Terveen

            Rift = HMD
            Oculus Home = platform

            I would buy the HMD, it looks like an awesome piece of tech.
            I would even buy content I can only get only on Home as I am aware that it won’t make or break Oculus success with home at all. Not skipping on cool games.
            I would not buy content on Home that is also available on Steam (which will be true for at least 90% of Home content in the long run).

            And I do make plenty of efforts to make the problems I see with Home visible. I want Oculus to turn into the company I was hoping they would become when I bought my DK1 from them. :)

        • Andrew Jakobs

          uhh, but the Vive is mainly using the steam platform, which has it’s own DRM (good luck trying to play most games bought on Steam without having the Steam platform running, you’ll need a cracked DLL for that, hmmm that sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?).. Also Valve/Steam DOES send information their way in regard to hardware stuff etc, and they also track your account just like facebook does.. But then again, OculusStore works without needing a facebook account..
          Also as a developer you don’t have to use the Oculus platform, you can just sell your game anywhere.. Only some games are exclusive to the Oculus Store, but then again, enough games are also only available through Steam.
          One thing though, you propably already have a (large) library of games on Steam, and therefore don’t mind the DRM of Steam, as you are running their platform already.. But that’s just being a hypocrite if you point a finger at Oculus for trying to do the same..

          • Kristoph

            We’re talking hardware DRM here. If in a year a new VR headset launches and kills oculus and htc with new technology my steam library still has s very good value, my oculus library? Well no, they want to lock people in and make sure you can’t leave them.

            People try to circumvent their system so they can support their ecosystem and efforts on software development (remember when they said they make no money on hardware and want to sell the software at a profit?) and yet they do everything they can to prevent that.

            Would you buy a monitor if it could only display programs bought off the windows store?

            Yep really trying to advance VR aren’t they?

      • JustNiz

        Of all things, the fact that the rift has some cheap headphones attached is the decision maker for you? wow.

        • Gerald Terveen

          See my answer below … already have a Vive Pre (and a Vive DK1) … attached headphones are a really nice thing when you put the headset on a couple of dozen times per day :)

          • JustNiz

            Personally I prefer the freedom to use my own higher quality headphones or earbuds as I choose, but I can definitely understand the convenience of them being built in if you’re a game developer or whatever.
            That said its super easy to semi-permanently attach some earbuds to the Vive so they just drop down to about your ear height whenever you put it on.

    • Gerald Terveen

      And I am not sure what the current relations are. I think it is not even that bad. It’s “business”.

      • Noxas

        I agree, but the media perception always like to to blow it out of proportion. Except of course the studious writers of RoadToVR ;)

        • Kristoph

          Go onto any of the open forums for VR discussion, all the crap Oculus has done to screw over the community is coming to light, how would this surprise you at all?

    • JustNiz

      Vive doesn’t have somnething called timewarp but its got its own technology that addresses the same problem.

    • JustNiz

      Yes Oculus did their own tracking tech. That’s not a good thing. it uses a camera so leans heavily on the PC’s own processor for image processing (i.e. the same processor that is trying to run the game). The Vive’s implementation is both superior for accuracy and also doesn’t steal PC CPU cycles.

      • Noxas

        that is incorrect, I don’t know where this keeps coming from, please link it to me if you can. The Rift uses between 1% – 2%, processing power of the recommend CPU spec and has the same range and tracking stability of the Vive. It is using less CPU power than my browser is sitting idle typing this paragraph.

        • ummm…

          does this mean that the vive does NOT use less processing power?

          • Frank

            It means it does not lean *heavily*.

      • KT

        You might want to run some tests before making claims like this. The SteamVR runtime currently uses significantly more CPU cycles than the Oculus runtime.

        On top of that, remember that the Vive has a camera too, with the added overhead of constantly transferring the image from CPU to GPU so it can be presented to the user.

        • JustNiz

          Firstly, the camera is only active when you enable the option, and only in system/chaperone mode (i.e. not when you’re playing). Unlike the Rift, it is not needed for anything or even has to be on during gameplay.
          As to trying to claim that some method that offloads (signifcant) image processing work onto the system CPU is going to consume less system CPU than one that just feeds it already processed coordinates is clearly complete bullshit.

          • Bryan Ischo

            Sounds like he actually measured it, and you’re just spouting your own theories without actually having measured anything. Of course, he didn’t provide any detailed data, but he did at least make a verifiable claim.

            I own a Vive and would not touch a Rift after everything that’s happened. But there’s no point being unreasonable.

          • JustNiz

            I don’t need to measure anything to already know that doing stuff such as transferring megabytes of raw camera data a second from USB into RAM and probably doing Fast Fourier and/or some other transforms on every frame in soft realtime consumes A LOT more CPU than just reading in a few bytes of pre-processed coordinate data.

          • Bryan Ischo

            … when both are implemented efficiently. And they may not both be, which is kind of the point here.

            Also “alot more” is meaningless to the discussion at hand if that “alot more” is only a few percent of one CPU core, and the bus/memory bandwidth consumed is similarly negligible.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            As no real information is available yet on the accuracy and extensibility of Oculus system, or on the extensibility of the lighthouse system (nobody actually added other tracked devices), it’s not a done deal the lighthouse system would be the better one, at the moment, it’s the only one in regard to roomscale.. But I do have a FEELING that lighthouse might be more accurate..

          • Bryan Ischo

            You’re right about that; I’m basing my assessment of constellation on just what I’ve read and can extrapolate from that.

            It’s my understanding that constellation uses LED lights on the device that blink in certain patterns. The blinking pattern allows the camera to determine (after a few frames of video, since the pattern requires time to play out over several (not sure how many) frames of video) which device it is looking at. The orientation of the LEDs and their position when combined with the more accurate data from the IMU can be used to calculate a full and accurate 3d position and orientation of the headset.

            OK, great. Now — add some more devices.

            How many LEDs does there have to be in order to be able to distinguish them all with sufficient fidelity at a distance? And how many LEDs are necessary to create an identifiable blink pattern that allows the video processing software to tell the headset apart from some other tracked device that is passing in front of/behind it?

            This sounds like a system that gets hairier and hairier to implement as the number of tracked devices, and thus the number of LEDs blinking in different patterns all over the field of view, goes up. In fact it sounds like it would be so difficult to track many blinking LEDs associated with many different devices with great fidelity that I wonder if it’s even feasable once you go past a few devices. I mean, of course it’s feasable if the devices are all separated by enough distance to not interfere with each other but … bring them all close together. How in the world does the video processing solution identify which LEDs are blinking in which pattern when they’re all munged together?

            Now take into consideration expansion of the space. Adding lighthouse units to enlarge the space seems like it would be trivial as long as the field of view of each base station includes only one other base station (for sync purposes); but that’s kind of what you want to maximize tracked space anyway. Now let’s say you want to add constellation cameras for the same purpose … you start to need 30 foot, 50 foot, 100 foot USB3 cables … is that even possible?

          • Andrew Jakobs

            You do know the oculus camera is just an IR camera, not a fullcolor high resolution camera..
            And you do know the Lighthouse system also has it’s flaws (as I read from many reviews about many times loosing tracking)..
            To be honest, I don’t think both tracking systems aren’t using that much CPU power, and it can always improve by having it’s own special CPU to handle tracking (think of it like a Raspberry Pi module, which costs like nothing if it’s only dedicated hardware and massproduced..
            I think a mix between lighthouse AND the Constellation system would be even better.. But then again, multiple nextgen Kinects would maybe even be better, as that would not need any special IR-leds or sensors on the headsets, arms, controllers..

          • KT

            There’s no need to be combative.

            I’ve found SteamVR to be more computationally expensive, but this isn’t surprising when you consider what both systems are actually doing. Once a second camera is added to the Rift, along with two more objects to track it may be a different story, but it’s still not going to have any impact on the performance of a game.

            Using more cycles is not inherently bad, and at no point did I say either system was better or worse, only that your assertion that the Vive is better due to a lack of camera and less CPU usage is entirely incorrect, as neither of those things are true.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Let’s not forget Oculus has Carmack for the stuff like Asynchonous time warp, the man is a graphics genious.. Oculus worked with Samsun on the displays (as I gather from other stories), which are in the end the same displays the vive is using..

  • Jack McCauley

    The chipset, the Toshiba HDMI to dual MIPI in the Vive was copied from Oculus’ own research. I should know I was there. I was the one who got that chip set for Oculus. Formerly, Valve used some kludged-up dual HDMI on the prototype. The tracking system that Valve uses, is roughly similar to Oculus’ – one uses a photodiode(s,) Oculus uses an LED sort of the reverse of Vive’s system and developed independently of Valve. So what, they both use an OLED in low persistence mode. There ain’t much to chose from in the display department due to limited suppliers. So what they both use the same display.

    • Kristoph

      Are you that “insufferable fanboy” Palmer was talking about? Heany555 is that you?

      Seriously, doens’t matter how you try to spin it now, Facebook/Oculus is in the business of screwing people over, not VR.

      • Jack McCauley

        No I’m not him. I just get irritated when I see a lie when I was there. I’m not “fan boy” nor do I know what that means. Mr. Yates did a clever job on Lighthouse but he otta tip the hat to people who preceded him. He can’t take credit for brushless controllers, laser scanners or the other sundry of technologies that made his tracker possible everyone copies everyone else. Valve copied our internal electronics and display controller tech. Did they – no probably not but we were first.

        • JustNiz

          But the article says (quote) “the foundation of the Oculus Rift is based on ideas lifted directly from an early research prototype that Valve had shared with Oculus”.

          • Noxas

            I think it is untrue to say the Rift is “based” on Valve research ideas. It defiantly has some of it incorporated, but as Jack is saying there only is so much currently available hardware and any VR head made is bound to be very similar unless there is extensive un-shared research. Each parties unique tracking solution is an excellent example.

          • Bryan Ischo

            You need to read his next sentence. He was stating a falsehood for effect and then demonstrating in the next sentence how such a thing could be read as true from a certain angle, if you wanted to, must like how Yates’ interpretation of who came up with what could be true from a certain angle, but that angle is pretty slim in both cases.

            Although I did have to read Jack McCauley’s last couple of sentences at least 4 times to be sure I understood it correctly so … not the most understandable post to be sure.

        • Gerald Terveen

          Of course you were first, you were working on a consumer product while Valve only tried to see what is possible in VR.
          And nobody is trying to diminish the accomplishments that Oculus has achieved in making a very polished consumer headset.
          But I am also very impressed that HTC and Valve managed to build such a nice piece of hardware in such a short amount of time. Even my Vive DK1 was working incredibly well (though I only got one in November last year when many problems had been solved I guess).

        • James Abrahams

          Where do you work? Oculus?

    • Gerald Terveen

      Jack you obviously have a much deeper understanding of it, but do you think that he was talking about the MIPI when he says “core features”?
      I am not an electronics guy and only looked at the whole MIPI thingie when we started discussing switching the Rift DK1 screens back on MTBS – back then it was tough to find anything fitting at all (and despite my ignorance I tried ^^).

      Overall it seems a bit unfair to say he “drank too much” because the solution they used to get the screens running was not that professional on an early prototype. It is hardly a feature that is relevant to VR.

      But please correct me if I am wrong.

      And while the math behind Constellation and Lighthouse might have similarities I do believe there are some fundamental differences. Yates says that “Oculus has their own CV-based tracking implementation” … so not sure what you are hinting at there.

      But Yates seems to hint on the dual screen design over the single screen design that DK1 and DK2 were based upon. Not that it has OLED screens. Though the low persistence would be the most obvious feature that came from Valve and that Oculus did use (which I do not blame them for – I suspect it is more Yates that is a bit frustrated that the fanboys now run around pretending it all was developed by Oculus).

      • Jack McCauley

        Why do you need two screens? Is it that you can adjust the IPD?

        • Gerald Terveen

          I suspect you are making a sarcastic comment with the sarcasm lost on me.

          But I honestly don’t know, my guess was always that it would allow for a wider range of IPD adjustments and the ability to keep the center of the screen in the center of the lens. But I would lie if I told you I know.

          I doubt it is anything new anyway as I suspect many of the professional class headsets used it. But Yates did not claim they were the ones who invented it, he just claims that the feature was already present on the prototype predating the CV1 prototypes in defense of someone claiming that Valve would not be there had they not been able to copy from Oculus. :)

          • Bryan Ischo

            I didn’t read any sarcasm in what he wrote. I think you’re being paranoid.

          • Graham J

            He’s not being sarcastic, he’s just baiting you into saying two screens are necessary to adjust IPD. But of course that’s not the case – you could adjust lens IPD with a static screen (as with many Cardboard ripoffs) but you need a maximally sized screen with a lot of wasted pixels that way, plus a way to detect the setting and relay that to software.

          • Gerald Terveen

            Well – I said it. But I fail to see how that impacts the points I was making at all. If anything it makes a strong point that Oculus was working on keeping the price low (DK1/DK2 single screen design) while Valve was working at “see what is possible and convince others that it is worth doing in case it makes a difference worth it”.

          • Graham J

            You said you didn’t know, which is perfectly fair. I think you’re on point here, it’s Jack that’s trying to save face.

          • Gerald Terveen

            I have a lot of respect for Jack, but I also see a pattern where easy to discuss topics get a short story and real responses get a one liner that does not really make a point.

        • Gerald Terveen

          and let me add – you seem to think that Yates comment is malicious … but don’t forget to look at the comment without the journalistic interpretation (that seems to have happened with a bit of a community clickbait headline in mind)

          • RoadToVR

            I’d argue against that statement if I may. Yes, the headline boils down the essence of what Yates was asserting (as headlines necessarily have to), but to call it clickbait says it was deliberately misleading. To my my mind, it’s a pretty good distillation of this direct quote (and I don’t think we suggested anywhere it was necessarily malicious):

            “CV1 is otherwise a direct copy of the architecture of the 1080p Steam Sight prototype Valve lent Oculus when we installed a copy of the “Valve Room” at their headquarters.”

            We’re always looking to improve however, so I’d be interested to see what others think of the headline. Feedback welcome as always.

          • Gerald Terveen

            Of course you may – if someone comes to my blog and accuses me of clickbait headlines (s)he’d better be willing to defend that claim.

            So let me qualify my statement first “a bit of a community clickbait” … meaning it is not exactly worst case clickbait, but it does go a bit in that direction as none of us VR bubbleheads can resist such a title.

            And here where I come to that conclusion

            “CV1 is otherwise a direct copy”

            otherwise … meaning there is a qualifier in Yates statement as he does take into account at least some parts that are not directly derived in his post.

            Your headline does skip on that part.

            Now one can argue that headlines need to be short, but

            “Alan Yates Says Rift is in parts derivative of Valve prototype”

            does go a bit down on the instant “must read” reaction while qualifying the statement.

            Of course my bias is at play here, so I say this is only my impression.

            And still loving the work you do, this is really not a complaint. I am happy it made me read the article.

          • RoadToVR

            Thank you Gerald, well argued points all. We’ll take another look at the angle we took there and review it as required.

          • benz145

            Hey Gerald, thanks for your comment here, it generated another discussion internally about the headline. Accuracy and dependability is our product and we always strive to deliver the truth, or as near to it as one can possibly get. As you correctly identified, issues with headlines can stem from the fact that they need to be short — after all, an entire article is needed to explain the situation, which means no headline can convey all the facts and nuances, especially for a story like this.

            Sometimes when you write a headline it seems perfectly straightforward, but then you see from another perspective that it wasn’t as clear as you thought.

            Original headline: Alan Yates Says Rift is a “Direct Copy” of Valve’s VR Research

            In this case, I think the original headline was truthful and accurate, but upon more scrutiny (thanks to your reasoned comments) it became clear how it could be misunderstood. I think the key issue was with the word “direct” (part of Alan’s quote) which was used to mean ‘unfiltered, unambiguous, straightforward, etc’. However, some may have taken the word to indicate the ‘amount’ of copying (rather than the exactness of copying), as in ‘wholly copied’, which is of course where a misunderstanding could be derived.

            That said, we’ve tweaked it to try to eliminate any chance for misunderstanding.

            New headline: Alan Yates Says Rift’s Core Features Are a “Direct Copy” of Valve’s VR Research

            Thanks again for caring enough to start a conversation.

          • Gerald Terveen

            I like the new headline, that one is spot on if you ask me.

            And thanks for taking the time to discuss this Ben, I love you guys for the years of great VR reporting anyway, but it puts the cherry on top when criticism is taken into account and leads to a serious discussion. :)

    • Graham J

      So Valve pioneered using two screens, Oculus copied the idea and found a chip that handled it better, then Valve used the same chip. Got it. Seems to me the idea of using two screens was more innovative than finding a chip in a catalog, but whatever.

      • KT

        It was hardly innovative. Using one screen per eye has been common for a long time.

        • Graham J

          “More” innovative, I said.

  • Myrddin Emrys

    Jilted lovers. “We shall love each other always!” changes to “You get the cat, I get the credenza” so quickly.

    I suspect that Valve was asked to sign a bunch of ‘all your IP are belong to us’ contracts after the Facebook buyout, and they just noped the hell out. As long as this spat of vitriol remains an online quarrel it’ll be fine… getting lawyers involved will cause nobody to win. No matter who ripped off who (if at all), just don’t get the lawyers involved.

  • Pete

    Ohhhh those are fighting words there!

  • Richard Schmidt

    Since the Vive has a chaperone mode and the Rift doesn’t (nor has it ever been advertised that I know of), I’m inclined to believe that Valve deserves the lion’s share of academic credit at this point in time.

    We’ll have to wait and see how they innovate post employee-grabs, though. Oculus may just spin their wheels trying to lock down the ecosystem while Valve continues its push to commoditize the platform. (Both for selfish reasons, let’s be honest, but one strategy is better for the consumer).

    • RoadToVR

      And Asynchronous Time Warp? A technique at least if not more important to most VR experiences than Chaperone I’d argue. Besides, these are both software innovations, an area in which both companies have made huge independent strides. This article however, is squarely focused on hardware.

      • Jason

        Well, chaperone keeps me from walking face first into walls and breaking my body and my Vive. Hard to underestimate its importance. :D

      • Bryan Ischo

        Valve’s presentation on the technique for dynamically reducing render quality to maintain frame rate seems like a much much better way to do it. Sure you need ATW as the backstop to prevent loss of frames but that should only be invoked a tiny percentage of the time.

  • JustNiz

    If ashperic lenses actually worked and had a great field of view as the article seems to suggest, I would love to know why both Rift and VIve went with apparently crappy fresnel lenses instead for the production versions. Was it just a cost reduction thing? If so I very much hope someone makes replacement aspheric lens kit available for the VIve. Even if its expensive I would buy it.

    • Gerald Terveen

      I have read today that it was that it leaves a higher pixel density at the center of the screen/lens where it counts the most. But I have no source to verify it – just makes sense, because that would be something worth suffering through the godrays for.

      • Bryan Ischo

        Higher density in the middle matters most only when you accept that people are not going to look around the scene with their eyes because the lenses are so crappy outside of the center. If the lenses were good everywhere, you’d spend as much time looking off-center as you would looking dead-center. But as it is, you do much more head movement because of the limited FOV and the limited area of reasonable clarity within the lenses themselves.

    • Jack McCauley

      I don’t want to dive into lens design, but they fact is that a chromatic correcting lens is just not practical for many reasons. I disagree that the lens are crappy but I’m an old guy and my eyesight aint what it was 30 years ago.

      • Gerald Terveen

        it is only “crappy” when content is not designed for it (which sadly is true for a lot of the stuff done in DK2 times) as the godrays drive you nuts.
        I would love to play some of the old 2D titles in the virtual cinema … but I gave up because with my glasses the godrays drive me crazy and give me eye strain.
        But on the stuff I develop myself I avoid contrasts that are too extreme and then everything is just fine.

        • Bryan Ischo

          Nah. It’s crappy all the way around. The colors are muted. The fresnel ridges are visible at times in almost every game, and sometimes so much so as to be significantly distracting. I can see the fresnel ridges on any flat color surface (as concentric circles of slightly different “density” of pixels), it doesn’t even require contrast, and it’s immersion breaking in every facet. There is a lack of clarity that is very obvious when you go back and look at the DK2 lenses in comparison.

          The FOV is definitely better than the DK2 FOV but … surely there are other ways to achieve that besides the severely compromised fresnel lens experience.

      • JustNiz

        Interesting, thanks for that. Do you think its even possible to replace the fresnel lenses with something that could give a better image (bigger sweetspot, no god-rays, wider FOV)? Or are we locked into necessarily using Fresnel because of the distances involved?

  • Jack McCauley

    Yates claiming (and I don’t think he did exactly) that Oculus copied Valve’ technology is rubbish. In this business, there are only a few suppliers that have what VR needs. You want a HDMI to Dual MIPI – go see Toshiba – they have the only one. You want an OLED display – who out there has an OLED display? Samsung and Sharp back then. The pixel density necessitates that you are using the process native to OLED displays for phones. Who makes those? You want to build your own display? Cost you $100M.

    • Sam Kennedy

      Okay, but I think that is the point all those things you said are “needed” for VR are things that where derived as being needed from Valves Research. Oculus did change a lot of things after that early partnership with Valve and Yates is just saying that the things they changed where a result of this partnership.

      There where some true visionaries working at Valve (abrash etc) at the time who will be remembered fondly , many of them now work at Oculus.

    • Bryan Ischo

      I don’t know anything about the specifics about how the Rift and Vive were designed but common sense would be on your side here. Every VR headset shares some large similarities and many of them are completely obvious. You want simple, effective IPD adjustment? You need two displays! Valve is not some genius for having come up with that, whether or not they saved Oculus the 20 seconds necessary to come to that realization. What you said about the panels and chips makes sense too.

      The only place where I see there being some muddy waters here is with the lenses. Luckey himself said that Fresnel lenses suck and were inappropriate for the tech and to be quite frank after nearly a month with the Vive, I agree. The lenses are far and away the worst part of the experience. Going back to the DK2 lenses is like a breath of fresh air after the glare, reduced contrast, and visible fresnel ridges of the Vive. I can’t imagine why Oculus would have switched over to fresnel instead of coming up with better non-fresnel lenses, especially given their initial reluctance to use them, unless they were following Vive’s design leads.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        But aren’t the Fresnel lenses Oculus uses special lenses which would do away with some of the negative aspects of regular Fresnel lenses? I only own headsets with normal lenses (VFX-1,VR920, DK2)

        • Bryan Ischo

          From what people are saying, the Rift lenses are better, except for the worse god rays in a minority of games/demos, and a slightly lesser FOV, which probably doesn’t impact the overall experience much.

          So maybe I was incorrect to assess fresnel lenses as awful. I mean, they have some nice characteristics, but they have some pretty bad ones too. The Rift apparently has better mitigated some of these problems at the expense of worse god rays in some situations. Since I don’t have a CV1 (although I have access to one, I really ought to get a demo), I can’t speak from experience here, only extrapolate from what I’ve read.

      • Matt R

        I own both cv1 and Vive. Both suffer from the glare problem but the rift is much worse.

        • ummm…

          can you tell me which lens is better? I understand some glare may be because the rift has a larger “nose hole”. I love my vive but the fact that Oculus may have a clearer and better resolution that effects use even during intense play knaws at me.

          • Will Cho

            Oculus rift has much better image quality. I own both Vive and Rift. God ray is more noticeable on Rift but rarely and mostly when logo is displayed in black background. But on Rift, SDE is less noticeable, sharper image with no ridges translated due to hybrid fresnel(no physical ridges unlike pure fresnel which physically have ridges) and more comfortable to wear with less weight that is very well distributed and feels much lighter than it should. Vive is awesome with bigger FOV and room scale but Rift definitely has better image quality at cost of smaller FOV but FOV difference isn’t that noticeable.

          • ummm…

            is the difference in image quality during focused gameplay a deal breaker? This is to say, yes the image may be slightly better – but does it gnaw at you when you are playing the vive?

          • Will Cho

            I received the Vive three weeks before the Rift. I only had the Rift for a week and a half as of today. When I first put the Vive on, I was really excited but noticed the SDE and ridges instantly, but like most people say, when you get into the game(audioshield is awesome), its not that noticeable. When I first put on the Rift, I said to myself, ‘Oh wow, so much sharper and no ridges.’ The FOV was a little smaller with tiny bit more tunneling but I did not care one bit cause it wasn’t that noticeable. Eve Valkyrie is eye candy. yum. Overall, visually(image quality and FOV) still prefer Rift. Just waiting for Touch.

  • 3Dgerbil

    Please, stop calling Palmer Luckey a genius…. ok, a genius stealer !

  • RadthorDax

    I think someone needs to figure out the difference between “shared” and “stolen” and that hyperbolic clickbait headlines make a journalist seem seedy.

    I’m a Vive owner, but there is support for your chosen product and then there is spreading misinformation about it’s competitors, with a world of difference in between.

  • V8Griff

    The use of 2 screens isn’t new. Virtuality used 2 screens back in the ’90s to cite just one example, with many others before and after. Maybe going to 2 screens in this era of ‘cheap’ HMDs is but folk need to realise/remember that VR wasn’t invented in the last 2 or 3 years only that it’s been revived and made ‘affordable’. Many of the solutions and issues being discussed today where seen and investigated over 20 years ago!

  • KT

    Does nobody remember Abrash’s talk at Steam Dev Days? He literally said Valve was sharing their hardware design with anyone who wanted to take it to market.

    Seeing Alan spin it like this is incredibly disheartening.

  • Travis

    The only thing here that was truly novel, and directly incorportated by Oculus is low persistence. This was a really important part of the puzzle for sure, and no one ever hid the fact that Valve came up with this solution and Oculus incorporated it, but it would be overstating to say they ripped off their engineering in any meaningful way.

  • OkinKun

    This is not a fair thing to say, on his part, about Oculus… I’ll just quote another comment about this issue:
    “Yeah, people need to look at this logically. So he claims they copied ‘everything’ except the Optics and the Constellation tracking.

    Ok, so what’s left?

    Did they copy the single HMD cable which reduces weight and tangling? Then why doesn’t the Vive use it?

    Did they copy the ergonomic, comfortable, and critically acclaimed rigid headstrap design? Then why doesn’t the Vive use it?

    Did they copy the novel exterior fabric wrapping? Then why doesn’t the Vive use it?

    What’s left after that? Using gyroscopes and accelerometers to track head position? HMDs have been doing that for years.

    What about using phone screens as the display? Because we know Palmer did that first (or at least, independently) or is Alan going to claim he installed a SteamVR room in Palmer’s garage as well?

    Regardless of how you feel about Oculus, unless if Alan is going to give some actual examples he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on here; because by these standards they can accuse Sony of ‘copying’ as well.”

    Clearly Alan Yates is just speaking bullshit, to drum up the current community outrage. -_-

  • Sea Pig

    Who cares? Where the f*ck is Half-Life 3?!?

    • ummm…

      i hear a lot about this half life stuff, but haven’t played it since the first one. are they that good? should i get 2?

  • Charles

    “a rift seemed to form between the two companies”
    Also a Vive.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    And as a lot of key VR people of Valve left for Oculus, it isn’t a wonder that some knowhow of the older valve headsets have come along, as some of the original creators of those headsets left to oculus. Also using 2 separate displays isn’t anything new, most older VR headsets are using 2 displays, I even have a DIY VR book from mid 1990 which had a project in it using 2 LCD tv displays..
    What I think is that Yates just has a chip on his shoulder..

  • jimrp

    I’m sorry but Palmer started the ball rolling. Then Valve came into the picture. Remember Kickstart er.

  • Kai2591

    Sounds like the start of a vengeful researcher whose fame was stolen and creates the best VR system ever and becomes god in it lololol
    ok i joke but makes an interesting (albeit tired) story ;)

    Well on a serious note whatever happens i just hope VR as a whole will prosper ever more :)

  • The Oculus Rift can be seen as a copy of the Valve’s VR Research, however, the Oculus Rift appears to be better.

    Most people would agree the Oculus Rift is better value for your money, plus, it’s a lot more comfortable to wear:
    http://oculusrift-1.yolasite.com