Oculus Will Sell Its First Headsets for Consumers Starting in Early 2016

By Jonathan Zhou, Epoch Times
May 6, 2015 Last Updated: May 6, 2015

Nearly three years after the project began on Kickstarter in the summer of 2012, a release date for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has finally been set—pre-orders can be made later this year, and will ship in the first quarter of 2016.

Oculus made the bare-boned announcement on its blog Wednesday, adding that technical specifications about the hardware, input, and made-for-VR games will be discussed in the coming weeks.

“Virtual reality is going to transform gaming, film, entertainment, communication, and much more,” the company wrote on its blog.

A number of video games are compatible with the Oculus platform, although the unreleased space fighter multiplayer EVE Valkyrie is the only made-for-VR game so far.

The front side of the Oculus Rift. (Oculus)
The front side of the Oculus Rift. (Oculus)

During the development of the Oculus Rift, the company has created two developer kits and multiple prototypes, the latest version being the Crescent Bay model unveiled last year.

The difference between the Crescent Bay and the final product for the mass market may be motion input from the hands. In December, Oculus purchased Nimble VR, a startup that focused on hand-tracking and 3D modeling technology, an area that Oculus had already started working on in May of last year.

Oculus did not announce a price for the Rift headset, but the company’s co-founders recently said that they’d like to keep it in an affordable range, between $200 and $400. In comparison, the price for the second developer’s kit stands at $350.

One of the ironies of the virtual reality sector is that Oculus, which has been credited with ushering in the VR renaissance, made its announcement after its competitors, Sony and HTC, did in March.

“[Oculus] raised the bar and now others are following,” said Albert Rizzo, a professor of psychiatry at USC who has done extensive research on the therapeutic applications of VR technology.

Virtual reality has been mainly marketed as an avenue for gaming, but the technology also has uses beyond pure entertainment. For instance, virtual worlds that simulate the battlefields in Iraq and Vietnam are used to aide military veterans in recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Oculus VR is owned by Facebook, which purchased it for $2 billion dollars in the summer of 2014.

For those who can’t wait another 6 to 9 months, Oculus is still selling the developer kits on its website.