While the average IPD (interpupillary distance — the distance between your pupils) is around 63mm, there are those on the edges of the spectrum that can have an IPD as high as 78mm or as low as 52mm. And even though you can measure your IPD in the Oculus Rift to make some virtual adjustments, for those far from the average, there’s little improvement to be seen beyond physically altering the IPD of the Oculus Rift. Barry Hill is one of those folks on the edge of the IPD spectrum, and he’s found a great DIY solution to increasing the physical IPD of the Oculus Rift.

Hill, who is based in Cape Town, South Africa and has an IPD around 58mm, says that ” not having your eyes in the center causes blur and nausea.” So he decided to do something about it. He credits this post from reddit as inspiration for this project.

“I work as a Software Architect and spend most of my spare time gaming and tinkering on various projects. The Oculus Rift really got my attention as it overlapped so many of my interests, from gaming, to software, to science and business, I Kickstarted it and put in my 9-month wait. In the meantime I soaked up information on reddit’s /r/oculus daily and also have a Rift demo in the making not yet released. Once I got the kit I was excited of course and enjoyed it, but the blur caused by the lack of lens separation adjustments really got to me so I got working on a solution to tide us over until the final release of the Rift!” Hill told me.

While the DIY guide below is great for tinkerers and makers, Hill has a more ambitious (and user-friendly) project in the works.

Hill is creating an IPD increasing attachment for the Oculus Rift that he says will easily snap in and out of the Rift. He says people will be able to order the custom accessory which will be made to their exact IPD (between 60mm and 70mm) and exact focus (and range between the A, B, and C cups), thanks to 3D printing. Those interested will be able to order the accessory and have it sent directly to them. Anyone interested in such an accessory can sign up to be notified of the project’s progress:

Sign-up to be Notified of the Oculus Rift Lens Separation Attachment

“…it’s great to see all these future techs converge. Tell people you “3D-printed a modification for your VR HMD” a few years ago and people would think you are Back from the Future,” said Hill.

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DIY Guide: How to Increase the Oculus Rift’s Physical IPD

Guide by Barry Hill.

1. Keep it Clean

This is as "Open" as the Rift needs to get. I placed some cling wrap over the holes exposing the screen because I don't want to get dust, hair, sweat or blood in there... There is probably a better solution - but you need it to be transparent so you can see through it when testing separation.

This is as “open” as the Oculus Rift needs to get. I placed some cling wrap over the holes exposing the screen because I don’t want to get dust, hair, sweat or blood in there…. There is probably a better solution — but you need it to be transparent so you can see through it when testing separation.

2. Material #1

The hardest part is finding something as the base of the mod. I'll explain later, but basically you want something that you can cut easily, be around 5 mm thick and is reasonably firm. I almost used a piece of cardboard box, then found this piece of rubber in it (should probably clean up the place a bit)...

The hardest part is finding something as the base of the mod. I’ll explain later, but basically you want something that you can cut easily, be around 5mm thick and is reasonably firm. I almost used a piece of cardboard box, then found this piece of rubber in it (should probably clean up the place a bit)….

3. Testing the Thickness of Material #1

Testing the thickness of Material # 1 - Imgur

What we want is to have the heights of C-cup + material = height of A-cup. The lenses are exactly the same, it’s just the distance to the screen which affects the focus, so a C-lens as far away from the screen as an A lens is exactly the same.

I found it was really difficult to measure the height of the lens cups due to their shape. Instead I decided to rather hack it a bit and use my phone’s accelerometer as a “level” (there are plenty of apps). Placing the phone on the top of one lens, I could see the relative height difference when the level is showing it is perfectly horizontal. (Note: the C-cup on the right is on top of our material #1).

The heights were a bit off, the material was slightly too thick. Indeed it measured more like 6-7 mm as opposed to 5 mm.

4. Material #2

Material # 2 - Imgur

So I started looking for something slightly thinner and noticed my mouse pad: 5 mm thick, cuttable, reasonably firm. I didn’t like it very much and it’s really cheap, so let’s measure….

5. Testing the Thickness of Material #2

Testing the thickness of Material # 2 - Imgur

Realising I could scratch the lenses, I placed something protective on top of the lenses. This material (mouse pad) was as close as perfect as I was going to get.

6. Testing with Some Small Pieces First

Testing with some small pieces first - Imgur

Bye-bye, mouse pad.

7. Mouse Pad Sacrifice

Mouse Pad sacrifice - Imgur

What I’m trying to do here is place some bits of the foam in such a way that I can rest the C-cups on them, but still be able to see through the screen. Nothing here is stuck down, it’s just loose.

8. Placing the Lenses to Test

Placing the lenses to test - Imgur

Here you can see the lenses are on top of the clips they usually slot into. In fact they are slightly higher than that because those clips are only about 3-4mm, and the mouse pad foam was around 5mm.

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NB: You’ll also see that the lenses are touching together now. Usually there is about a 4-6mm distance between them. The whole point of this mod is to move them closer, in my case, or further away. Remember the default is 65mm. My IPD is 58mm, I need to move them closer by 7mm if possible.

9. Testing

Testing - Imgur

Here you can see me looking down through the lenses, I can’t pick it up because everything is resting loosely. In the end I used Titans of Space to test… looking down at my body the whole time T_T.

(Note: use a demo where you can adjust the IPD in game, you need to do this too to get the full effect).

At this point it is remarkable to see the difference moving the lenses closer or further away makes. For the first time I saw a far crisper image, wow!

I had the lens cups touching each other in the end, I could I guess file away at the cups to get them even closer but it was already great. Unlike before, if I closed one eye, I didn’t need to move left or right to get a clearer image, it was already clear where I was.

10. Testing break

Testing break - Imgur

Messing around with lenses that were loose and changing the separation made me feel sick quite quickly. Drank some Ginger Tea.

11. Cat alert

Cat alert - Imgur

Chase cat out of room and close door….

12. Moving On

Moving on - Imgur

Now that I was sure the mod was worthwhile, I needed to get a full “plate” of mouse pad down so that the lenses could rest at the right height above them, attach them, and be able to take it out whenever I liked.

So I cut out the shape of the inside area, it took a bit of trimming but you want it to be enough to cover the “clips” that the lenses normally go into.

13. Precision Cutting

Precision Cutting - Imgur

Try mark where the bottom “clips for the lenses” would be. You can do this by measuring, or like I did, just drew on it while it was in the rift.

14. More Cutting

More cutting - Imgur

Make small cuts and test how it fits, repeat until you can slot the the “plate” into the “clips” at the bottom. The reason we are doing this is so that the “plate” can rest flat on top of the holes exposing the screen. The clips get in the way and that is why we are trying to make the room for them to fit. It also help it keep it in place when done.

15. Even More Cutting

More Cutting - Imgur (1)

Here you can see all five clips exposed by the holes I cut in the mouse pad. It should fit in nicely and firmly. Rather have it a snug fit, it should easily stay in place if you had to turn the rift upside down.

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16. Are We Done?

Are we done - Imgur

Almost, except that now we can’t see anything through the lenses, we need to cut the holes again.

17. Line-up

Line-up - Imgur

This time you want to line up the lenses like they were normally. There is no point cutting the holes to match your new separation because the Rift’s holes are still the same, so the best we can do is just cut with the center in the same place.

18. Trace

Trace - Imgur

19. Trace Result

Trace result - Imgur

20. Cut Lines

Cut lines - Imgur

NB: do not cut on the first line, first of all tracing on the outside is going to be bigger already, but also you need the lenses to rest comfortably on the foam, so the hole can’t be bigger else it will fall through.

Also keep in mind whether you are increasing or decreasing the separation. in my case I needed to be careful not to cut too far out on the far left and right because I would be placing the lenses closer together, you don’t want gaps exposing the Rift’s screen to the environment.

I suggest placing the lenses on top again but now at the positions you want them to be and just check you aren’t going to cut out too much.

21.Cut Out the Center

Cut out the center - Imgur

It’s not pretty — this is why we need a 3D printer (but it works for now).

22. Test with Lenses

Test with lenses - Imgur

Great, no gaps around the edges of the lenses, and they are placed together.

23. Tape

Tape - Imgur

I used tape to secure the lenses to the “plate” so that I could always untape, move them, or revert completely and use the C cups like normal. But you could I guess glue it, or better 3D print a plate with clips in much the same way as the Oculus Rift.

24. Remove the Cling-wrap

Remove the cling-wrap - Imgur

In a packet upside down (to avoid dust and other stuff getting into the exposed screen), remove the cling-wrap or whatever you used and ideally have some compressed air, duster stuff to blow out any stuff that might have got in (cutting up foam produces alot of llittle foam bits).

25. Forgot the Gap for the Nose!

Forgot the gap for the nose T_T - Imgur

26. Tada, New lens separation.

Tada, New lens separation. - Imgur

65mm… minus around 5mm = 60mm IPD.

It’s not 58, but it’s amazing how much better it looks now for me. If you need it even more narrow, I guess you could start filing away at the C-cups to bring them even closer.

Note, I didn’t notice any difference in my FOV or anything in between my eyes with the Rift on, just clearer and more awesome!

P.S. The whole plate stays in on its own because it is snug, but I can pull it out and put the A-cups back whenever.

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  • brantlew

    An important thing to be aware of is that this will move the lens centers away from the center of the rendering projection. Reducing the physical lens separation like this without adjusting the software will cause your eyes to diverge in order to bring the stereo images together – a potentially uncomfortable experience. With the Tuscany demo you can recompile with the proper separation and it should fix the rendering (HMDInfo::LensSeparationDistance). However, for the vast majority of precompiled content you will not be able to modify this value resulting in an inferior visual experience.

    • bwhill

      I find that the overall visual experience is improved, 3mm per eye isn’t much in terms of the problem you have outlined, but the lenses add blur exponentially the further from the center you move due to the shape. But, agreed, it does indeed replace one problem with another.

      Fortunately it is solvable in software! I believe it would be prudent for developers to remain aware and plan for it; I’m sure the final Rift will have it adjustable. Otherwise many of the demos being built now and shelved won’t look great down the line. Being able to set lens separation in the Oculus Config Util would be ideal. In the meantime those of us with low or high IPD need to choose which is worse, the blur or the distortion – it’s at least nice to have the option.