Oculus Rift started as a crowd-funded virtual reality headset to be both more effective than what is currently on the market and inexpensive for gamers. The Oculus allows you to look all the way around, however with all the chords needed to be plugged in it can be hard to do a full 360. Then Oculus was bought out by Facebook in march of 2014 for $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in Facebook stock and an additional $300 million depending on it meeting financial targets.
Even though it isn’t finalized yet Facebook has released a development kit allowing developers to start creating software for it. There are games being created to show off different ways that Oculus can be used. The one that really stands out to me is called, “keep talking and nobody explodes.” Its a cooperative game where one player is in VR and must defuse a time bomb with help from friends in the real world who have the manual. Other developers are adding Oculus support to already existing games such as Dying Light, GTA 5, and Portal 2.
Gaming is certainly the main driving force behind the VR headsets but there are endless implementations. Virtual tourism is now possible by combining the Oculus with Google’s street view. This will allow people to travel even if they are limited due to physical or financial issues. Other companies are exploring using the Oculus for architecture and Modeling. It allows the architects to explore environments before they’re constructed in real life. People are even using VR headsets as training tools. Modern surgery simulations are pretty sophisticated already; however the Oculus allows student surgeons the perspective of a surgery in progress.
Here at the office we got our hands on the Dev-kit 2 version of the Oculus Rift. We got our bearings in a demo game where you just explore a house overlooking a lake. Once we were immersed we split off into all kinds of games from horror to spaceship battles. It is certainly an impressive piece of hardware but certainly is not ready for consumer release. The biggest hurdle standing between Oculus and the mass market is that it requires a fairly beefed up PC that can support three displays; the monitor and one for each eye in the oculus.
Unfortunately we don’t yet have a release date for the finished product. This could be an issue since Valve’s HTC Vive is coming out at the end of the year and Sony’s Project Morpheus in early 2016. While its not a race it is a tech product that consumers will probably only purchase once per generation so the first to market with a solid offering will most likely have a higher adoption rate.