Virtual Reality: Not So Far Away Anymore

On Monday, March 29, a company called Oculus released their VR system called Oculus Rift to the public. Despite the fact that the headset is the newest device in technology, the system didn’t get a grand party or a boom of marketing to celebrate and advertise its debut. Critics in the gaming industry were disappointed to see that the price point was much higher than they had predicted (starting at $600). However, when Rift went on sale, it was sold out in a matter of seconds.

Founded in June 2012 by Palmer Luckey, Oculus has been working on producing the Rift since the company’s beginning. Two months after Oculus’ creation, they launched a Kickstarter campaign asking for $250,000 to jumpstart the prototype process for Rift. A month later, they had raised $2.5 million in backer donations. In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion, giving Oculus plenty of capital to further experiment with the idea of their virtual reality product. After that, Oculus released several experimental versions before arriving at the final version of the Rift. Oculus’ first wave of Rift headsets are already sold out, with more expected to arrive this summer.

Each headset tracks the motion of the wearer’s head so that the in-game camera moves with his or her movements creating a real life effect of looking around. The Rift bundle comes with an Xbox One Controller and a few games specially developed for the system. However, other partnering devices such as Oculus Touch controllers, devices that simulate the movement of your hands, are not included in the current $600 package.

Other VR manufacturers like HTC and Sony are debuting their own versions of VR consoles later this year. Sony, creator of the PlayStation consoles, is developing a VR headset for their PlayStation 4 console called the PlayStation VR, which will be released in October 2016. HTC’s Vive console is a product more along the lines of the Rift, with a VR headset connected directly to the PC gaming platform, which is expected to be released  April 5, 2016. Critics are interested to see how each one measures up.

Luckey has been vocal about the future of Oculus Rift. He, along with other big names in the tech field, predicts that VR is not for everyone out there, but he says it’s definitely the next step in technology.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/technology/personaltech/oculus-rift-virtual-reality-review.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/03/24/us/ap-us-virtual-reality-oculus-rift.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_nn_20160328&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=73101683

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