How to Give A Virtual Reality Demo

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As more companies get their hands on Oculus Rift development kits, VR demo stations are making appearances at gaming conventions, architecture and construction trade shows, and technology conferences. Giving comfortable, quick, non-nauseating VR demos is new territory, so we outlined our own trade show rig. Let us know what you think! Do you prefer a different set up? Start the conversation below.

The Rig

  1. Oculus Rift DK2: Well, obviously you’ll need a VR headset to give a VR demo. Order here.

  2. High-end gaming laptop: VR requires robust hardware to push stereoscopic rendering at 75 frames per second (fps). We recommend MSI’s GT72 Dominator (not shown), which packs a top-of-the-line Nvidia GTX980M GPU. It sports a physical GPU button that allows you to bypass the laptop's integrated graphics, solving many of the performance hiccups associated with running VR apps on laptops. Order here.

  3. Light stand for mounting IR Camera: IR is an important component of the DK2 experience and we found that attaching the IR camera on a tripod set behind the PC is more stable than attaching it to laptop’s screen. And in the case of standing demos, you will have the flexibility of adjusting the height of the IR camera. Order here.

  4. Xbox One controller: While the industry is still searching for the best method to navigate in Virtual Reality, the Xbox One controller is currently the best input device on the market. Order here.

  5. Extension Cord: Be on the safe side and bring your own extension cord, just in case you are presenting a little too far from the outlet. Having your PC plugged in at all times is important to prevent performance throttling due to battery-saving technology. Order here.

  6. Duct Tape: The DK2 setup is cable heavy; duct tape will help you keep things organized and in place. This has saved our HDMI cables from getting yanked out a number of times,

  7. Microfiber cloth: Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll need to clean the lenses periodically to remove smudges from fingerprints and foreheads. Order here.

  8. Sanitary Wipes: For the sake of public health, it is a great idea to wipe down the foam cushion on the Rift every so often. Order here.

  9. Beautiful view of Lake Champlain: Not a requirement, but it’s a pretty sweet backdrop.

The Setup

  • Don’t cut it close. Show up early to find an outlet.

  • First get your demo running smoothly on the Rift. Murphy's law will likely drop in to say "hi" at this point.

  • Affix the IR sensor to the stand. Position it directly in front of where the user will sit at eye level.

  • Mirroring:

    • If you are using Unity game engine, make sure you have installed the recent Unity OVR integration package which allows seamless and smooth mirroring with “Direct to Rift” support.

    • If you are using Unreal Engine, a demo packaged with version 4.6 should support "Direct to Rift" mode with mirroring.

    • If all else fails, use Open Broadcast Software to mirror your demo. This is a very hacked-together solution, but it's the only thing that works in a pinch. Instructions here.

  • Make sure the mirrored screen is viewable to the audience. 

The Demo

  • Have the user sit down if possible. The last thing you want is for an overzealous user to lose their balance and injure themselves or destroy your gear.

  • (Optional) Set a timer - many people will lose track once in VR. You want to avoid having people wait in line forever to check out your demo.

  • Make sure you check the demo between uses in case anything goes wrong or it starts juddering.

  • Having a reset button on your demo is always a plus especially with large demos, so you can make sure every person is having the full experience by resetting their position to the starting position.

With the lightning pace of VR development, we can say with absolute certainty that this guide will have a limited shelf life. Samsung Gear VR eliminates 80% of the setup requirements in this post, so the future of public VR demos will be in a state of flux. We'll periodically update this article as the shape of modern VR evolves. Until then, we wish you the best of luck spreading the magic of VR across the land.