Oculus announced at its annual developer conference the “biggest software update yet” to its Rift headset.
The update, known formally as “Rift Core 2.0,” will make it easier to multitask and perform traditional computer tasks while in virtual reality. It will also radically change the user interface of the Rift headset. After the update, when you boot up the Oculus Rift, you’ll be greeted by a brand new desktop called “Dash.”
Dash is reminiscent of a Minority Report-style interface, where windows dangle in the air and can be moved around with the wave of a hand. Dash will let you code inside VR, but also bring along your favorite desktop experiences like Facebook and Messenger, Youtube, Spotify and even Google Chrome.
Developers will especially enjoy the ability to debug VR apps while actually running them via Visual Studio, Unity and Unreal. Screens appear in full-fidelity inside Dash, and you can access the rest of your PC beyond the core apps.
Another important part of the Rift Core 2.0 update is the brand new Oculus Home – or what is essentially a virtual home that people can hang out in and launch apps from.
The revamped Oculus Home lets you make your startup screen for Rift into your fantasy geek palace. You can pick all sorts of sensible or sci-fi furnishings, like art, seating and toys. You can show off trophies of your in-game achievements, and even play retro video games by popping cartridges into old-school game machines. Oculus is planning to let you hang out with friends inside Home in the future.
It all seems heavily inspired by Aech’s basement headquarters from Ready Player One. Creating a familiar, customizable spaces inside VR could get people more hooked on Oculus’ products. The Sims proved insanely popular, and the new Oculus Home could let you build your virtual home around you rather than beneath you.
Meanwhile, Dash could be the answer for developers and others who rig together multiple physical monitors to give them extra screenspace. Dash will make the screen all around you, so you could shove your music app behind you, and leave chat apps in the sky while your whole front-facing view is consumed by the work at hand. Spending whole work days inside VR sounds a bit exhausting, but for hardcore multi-taskers, Dash could truly be the new computing platform Mark Zuckerberg envisioned when he acquired Oculus.