The Oculus Rift Kickstarter page reports that developer kits won't start shipping until March 2013. Oculus originally anticipated to sell a little over 200 kits to game developers and have them shipped before the holidays. But this latest update indicates that the team just doesn't have enough time to crank out a larger 7,500 units in four months even though they're "up against the wall" and "working around the clock".
Oculus originally launched the Kickstarter campaign back in August. Its popularity quickly grew partially thanks to the participation and enthusiasm expressed by id Software's John Carmack. DOOM 3: BFG Edition for Windows PC already supports the device as will Doom 4 whenever it finally appears on the market (it's 3DFX all over again).
When the Kickstarter campaign finally came to a close, Oculus had an amazing 9,522 backers funding $2,437,429 USD, surpassing the original $250,000 goal. Now the team is cranking out 7,500 units for developers, but modifications to the original design for mass-manufacturing and balancing additional features with the team's tight schedule has caused a delay.
"The majority of the remaining work is now in the hands of our manufacturer, who’s currently making the injection mold tooling used to create the Rift's plastic shell," Oculus said. "We waited to make an official announcement until we had a firm schedule from our manufacturer."
One of the toughest challenges during the revision stage was finding the right display for mass production, as the display used in the protoypes was discontinued.
"Many of you already know that the Oculus Rift prototypes we’ve been showing use a 5.6-inch LCD," Oculus said. "While not perfect, it’s been sufficient for early research and development, including the work John Carmack did with DOOM 3: BFG Edition. Unfortunately, production of that display was recently discontinued, a fact we learned after trying to source (buy in bulk) enough to meet the incredible response from the developer community."
Oculus shopped around for a new display until the company finally found a modern 7-inch display with a 1280 x 800 resolution. It's better than what was used in the prototype, especially in regards to switching time, meaning that most of the motion blur people saw in earlier prototype demos has been alleviated. But the new display is also heavier, weighing around 30g more than the previous 5.6-inch display.
Another source of the delay stems from Oculus ripping out the off-the-shelf sensor and installing an in-house 9DOF motion sensor that "excels" in VR-critical areas. These custom sensors will be available in the developer kits shipping out in March 2013, the company said.
"The new Oculus sensor supports a refresh rate of up to 1000hz, which is several times faster than the previous sensor," the company said. "In addition to the accelerometer and gyroscope, it also includes a magnetometer, which opens new doors in terms of sensor data and head-tracking."
Oculus provides a lot more detail about what's changed in the VR headgear, and even supplies images of the latest working prototypes. To read the whole update, head here.