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Friday, June 12, 2015
Facebook Unveils the Oculus Rift (And a Controller)
FACEBOOK AND OCULUS have officially unveiled the Rift virtual reality headset, three years after a prototype made its public debut.
The device will go on sale in the first quarter of next year, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said at a launch event this morning in San Francisco. The company did not reveal a price, but Oculus has previously said that, when paired with all the PC hardware needed to run the headset, it will sell for less than $1,500.
Strapped over the eyes, the headset immerses the wearer in surprisingly convincing 3-D environments. Iribe says the headset will include removable headphones, so that you use the device in tandem with your own headphones, and it will come with a wireless game controller originally built for the Microsoft Xbox One game console. Facebook and Oculus have partnered with Microsoft in an effort to ensure the device will work well with games running on Windows 10, the operating system Microsoft is set to ship at the end of July.
Software developers have long had access to Rift prototypes, and multiple games will be available for the device in the coming year, including EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games and Chronos from Gunfire Games.
Facebook acquired Oculus in March of last year in a $2 billion deal. The startup was little more than two years old, having bootstrapped its virtual reality headset as a Kickstarter project in August 2012. At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg painted Oculus’ VR technology as a way of ultimately transforming social networking. But initially, the Rift will be used primarily for games. Oculus says it will pump $10 million into independent game development efforts.
The device will offer a software interface called Oculus Home, a central place to browse, buy, and play games and interact with other players. There will also be a 2-D version of the interface that can be used without the headset.
At today’s event, the company also demonstrated a prototype of a new virtual reality controller dubbed Oculus Touch. Code-named “Half Moon,” these wireless devices are gripped like other controllers and provide haptic feedback that is so often a part of modern games. But they also include a ring of sensors that detect when you, say, wave or give a “thumbs up.” According to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, the aim of the Touch is to create an extension of your own hands. When using the device, you will see “your own hands” in the virtual world.