The Facebook Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display developed by Oculus VR. It was initially proposed in a Kickstarter campaign, during which Oculus VR (at the time an independent company) raised US$2.5 million for the development of the product.
The Facebook Oculus Rift is scheduled for release on March 28, 2016, making it one of the first consumer-targeted virtual reality headsets. It has a resolution of 1080×1200 per eye, a 90 Hz refresh rate, and a wide field of view. It has integrated headphones which provide a 3D audio effect. The Rift has rotational and positional tracking. The positional tracking is performed by a USB stationary IR sensor, which normally sits on the user’s desk, allowing for using the Rift while sitting, standing, or walking around the same room.
The Facebook Oculus Rift has gone through various prototype versions in the years since the Kickstarter campaign, around 5 of which were demonstrated to the public. Two of these prototypes were made available for purchase as ‘development kits’, DK1 in late 2012 and DK2 in mid 2014, to give developers a chance to develop content in time for the Rift’s release. However, both were also purchased by a large number of enthusiasts who wished to get an early preview of the technology.
In June 2013, a prototype of the rift that used a 1080p LCD panel was shown at Electronic Entertainment Expo. This step forwards to twice the number of pixels as DK1 significantly reduced the screen door effect and made objects in the virtual world more clear, especially at a distance. The poor resolution had been the main criticism of the DK1.
This HD prototype is the only prototype of the Rift shown to the public which did not turn into a publicly available developer kit.
Oculus is also releasing a pair of controllers to be used with the Rift, called Oculus Touch. The controllers are sold as a pair, and are mirrors of each other- one for each hand. They are lightweight, wireless, handheld motion controllers featuring a joystick, buttons, and two triggers- one for grabbing and one for shooting or firing. The controllers are fully tracked in 3D space by the Constellation system, so that the user sees them in virtual reality responding to their real world counterpart, giving the user the sensation of their hands being present in the virtual space.
Oculus Touch also features a system for detecting finger gestures made when holding the devices. This allows the user to perform actions like giving the thumbs up or pointing to objects or other users in virtual reality.
When the user puts on the Rift and no other content is being output to the headset, they are presented with Oculus Home. This is the default environment of the Rift, allowing the user to launch VR applications they own, see if their friends are using the Rift, and purchase virtual reality content on the Oculus Home store from the headset.
Oculus Home’s store is curated to only allow applications that run smoothly on the recommended hardware, and experiences are given ratings for their comfort (such as causing motion sickness or jump scares), however developers do not have to use Oculus Hometo distribute content for the Rift, it is entirely optional.
On March 25, 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR for a reported 2 billion dollars. The reported acquisition deal included 400 million USD in cash and 1.6 billion in Facebook stock, and grants Facebook ownership of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming technology.
For more information visit the Oculus Rift Website.