Hacking The Oculus Rift: The Oculight

Our Oculus Rift finally arrived in the mail. I’ll spare you my thoughts on the item itself other than to say it is amazing. There are tons of videos to choose from that show people’s thoughts and reactions, and Ifixit has their usual detailed teardown as well.

The mod I decided to tackle first was the horizontal peripheral vision lights. The shape of the Oculus means that it feels like you are wearing a skii mask, or diving mask. There are big black borders at the far edges of the sides. It would seem that a simple mod would be to add some RGB LEDs and run a simple ambilight clone.

I downloaded the Adalight code and plugged in an RGB LED strip I had sitting around. The rift has some mesh areas at the 4 corners to allow air to move around in there. I took advantage of this so I didn’t even have to cut into the rift… yet. I simply strapped the strip to the rift with the proper LEDs shining through the holes.

The result was decent. Since the LEDs are further back in your peripheral vision than the edge of the screen, it looks like maybe a little light from the surroundings is just “leaking” into the headset. It gives the impression of seeing things that are far beyond the edge of the screen.  A better installation, allowing lights all the way up the left and right sides instead of just the corners might yield even better results.

23 thoughts on “Hacking The Oculus Rift: The Oculight

  1. I have to hand it to the Oculus guys, they’ve got a really great product, and I’m sure the quality of their internal code is as good as it is in their last SDK. Hoping I can buy one soon.

  2. You should try doing this with a strip of diffusive plastic. In my experiments, this kind of thing works much better when you have some kind of medium than just shining the lights straight out.

    Can’t wait to see this progress!

  3. LoL…so you see vent holes and the first thing you think is, “Let’s block those with something that makes heat”?

    Neat hack idea, but I think it needs some work before I would think about doing it in Florida

    1. My first thought. it would be nice if your peripheral vision could pick up something outside of your center of vision. Very useful at that. Maybe next-gen Oculus will have improved peripheral vision; they already upgraded the resolution during development.

  4. Interesting hack, but kind of disappointing that the FoV is so limited on the Rift. I’d believed the hype that the optics would give a better sense of immersion. Hey ho…

      1. Just been getting odd looks for playing around with post-it notes in front of my face – I’m now much more impressed! Definitely sounds like an upgrade to my old SVGA i-glasses :)

  5. Great stuff.
    Ambilight on TV is just a gimmick for me, but with the Rift it makes perfect sense.
    Since the customer Rift probably won’t have a wider FOV, we absolutely need that tech !

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