At E3 earlier this month it became apparent that Microsoft and Oculus have developed quite the buddy-buddy relationship, with the latter’s Rift VR headset being compatible with both the Xbox One and Windows 10. Since the companies are good friends now, Oculus shouldn’t take offense that Microsoft has developed a better lens for the Rift, offering a sharper image and less chromatic aberration. The design comes from the Microsoft Research group, and offers a decent improvement over the Oculus Rift DK2.
Microsoft has even shared the design via a downloadable CAD file, but know in advance that things will get pricey. The lens can be purchased from Edmund Optics, and the housing can be 3D-printed, however Microsoft suggests the printer be an Objet Eden 260 3D, something that is much more high-end than the usual hobbyist hardware. Also, the lenses need to have a “visible light (VIS) antireflection coating.” This brings the price up to roughly $200 per eye.
If you can get past all that, Microsoft says its new lens design has a field of view that is slightly smaller than the default Rift hardware, but “is sharper across the field and has far less chromatic aberration.” You can see the improvement in image quality above.
Seeing as how the Oculus Rift DK2 is priced at $350, it makes sense that they would have to skip on luxuries like anti-reflection coating. However, the recently announced consumer version of the headset promises “custom optics,” which we can only hope will reduce lens distortion.