Oculus open-sources original Rift developer kit's firmware, schematics, and mechanics

Kicking off the Oculus Connect conference in Los Angeles this weekend, Oculus's Nirav Patel announced that the original Oculus Rift developer kit (DK1) is now fully open-source, with the exception of the pieces that aren't actually in production anymore—for instance, the display, which is no longer manufactured.

"We don't want everyone to have to take the same risks we took. We just want to share the things we learned so you don't have to do that. We're all in this to build virtual reality together," said Patel.

Those risks were the focus of Patel's talk, which discussed the manufacturing of the DK1. "We found just about the roughest and quickest contract manufacturer we could find in China," said Patel. "We were a ragtag group of ten people nobody had ever heard of trying to create a product nobody thought was possible."

He discussed the different challenges the team encountered trying to get the original Oculus out the door, such as the trip where they spent hours rubbing different foam materials on their face to find one that was comfortable enough for prolonged use.

Or the last-minute panel change that almost screwed the project—"We initially started with this 5.6 inch panel in the Rift," said Patel, "But ultimately that thing ended up being end-of-lifed before we could get our hands on them, so we had this mad rush to switch to this 7" panel which resulted in this big lunchbox thing."

As a result, the DK1 had all sorts of underutilized screen real estate hidden behind the lenses, but it was a compromise the Oculus team had to make to get the product out the door. Other things Patel acknowledged were ill-planned: The removable eye lenses that let dust in, the weird adjustment slots on the side that needed a coin or screwdriver to turn, et cetera.

But with the DK2 out, Oculus decided it was time to put out the DK1 to the community. And they really mean the community. Many of the files would require high-end equipment that most people won't have access to, so Oculus is hoping the community will come together to make some easy 3D printable files and the like.

The files are out there, though, if you want them. "Really we're more interested in seeing what people do with the individual components," said Patel. He said an enterprising person could even make low-latency trackers based off Oculus's design and sell them to interested people—the licenses are that open.

And, of course, "There's also the CAD for the carrying case if you want a cool fashion accessory."

As for when the DK2 will go open source? Patel's keeping quiet for now. "Even opening the DK1 was a debate we had internally for the last year or so," he said. Fingers crossed, DIY community.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.