Virtual reality is getting closer to a commercial reality as Facebook-owned Oculus VR has announced a consumer version of their headset will become available in early 2016. “We’re incredibly excited to announce that the Rift will be shipping to consumers in Q1 2016!” tweeted Nate Mitchell, Oculus’s vice-president of product.
Oculus VR launched the current wave of virtual reality, unveiling the prototype of the Rift in 2012 to rapturous reviews. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised just over $2.4 million. Facebook purchased the company for $2 billion in March 2014.
Virtual reality technology has had many highs and lows over the last 40 years, but has failed to capture people’s imagination for a number of reasons. Early attempts featured cumbersome technology that lacked the ability to create truly immersive graphics experiences and carried high costs.
Improvements in screen technology, graphics and the current focus on the potentially lucrative hardcore gamer market have drawn big-name companies to the technology in recent months. Despite the current hype, there are still some issues, including potentially causing motion sickness in some users.
Oculus revealed a little more information in a blog post. The model will be based on the Crescent Bay model available as part of the developer’s kit for the device.
"The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics for a more natural fit," the company said in the post.
With many companies aiming to release commercial versions of their virtual reality products by the end of this year, Oculus faced being left behind. Oculus has been working on creating a full experience and even warned its competitors not to release bad headsets for fear of turning people off the nascent technology.
"We’re a little worried about some of the bigger companies putting out product that isn’t quite ready," said Brendan Iribe,
Oculus VR’s CEO said at Dublin’s Web Summit conference in November. "That elephant in the room is disorientation and motion sickness. . . . We’re encouraging other companies, particularly the big consumer companies, to not put out a product until they’ve solved that problem."
"The Rift delivers on the dream of consumer VR with compelling content, a full ecosystem, and a fully integrated hardware/software tech stack designed specifically for virtual reality," the post read.