What the Tech?! Oculus Rift

A newly-crowned Crunchie winner and fan-favorite at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Oculus Rift is about to get even more hype.

Oculus Rift


Oculus Riftnoun;
A head-mounted display for games developed for virtual reality. In short, you can live-play video games with the headset. Though it isn’t available for consumers just yet, the Rift headset will be among the first virtual reality headset available for gamers to use in-home. Like Google Glass, the Rift will run on apps, though most will be games versus Glass’ more personal-assistant based model.

Oculus Rift started as a Kickstarter project in 2012, where they raised close to $2.5 million dollars — ten times their $250,000 goal, which was reached within 4 hours. The prototyped Oculus Rift premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, featuring an OLED display and a motion tracking system to immerse the wearer in the game. Each game being developed for the Rift uses the technology to its specific needs, but all start with the first-person experience; the wearer immediately becomes a part of the game, rather than the controller separated by however-many feet of space between the seat and the screen.

Though games are the focal concept for developers working on Oculus Rift, this Mashable review points out the possibilities of the Rift headset as a second-screen for experiencing media, a virtual experience for medical students, and a tool for virtual reality immersion therapy patients. It was used recently as a part of HBO’s traveling “Game of Thrones: The Exhibition” to put visitors into the world of the hit show.

There isn’t a definite release date on the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset, but it’s estimated to be within the next year.

UPDATE: Facebook purchased Oculus, the company that created the virtual-reality Rift headset, for $2 billion on March 25, 2014. It’s currently unclear about the deliverability of the product that was backed on Kickstarter, but we can be sure that Facebook will take the Rift in a direction that is likely not what most backers were hoping for. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, plans to use Rift technology for “communications, media and other forms of entertainment,” a pretty broad and super vague classification. (We imagine this means virtual reality advertisements, and maybe a modern, immersive version of Farmville?) Maybe Facebook hasn’t quite figured it out yet, which has caused many of the more than 75,000 developers who ordered devices to create games and software to express their frustration at their money invested. Because the device was originally funded on Kickstarter, there are a lot of questions and concerns over the acquisition.