Facebook-owned Oculus on Thursday unveiled Rift virtual reality headsets that it will begin selling early next year. Oculus showed off Rift along with a dazzling array of video games promised to be ready at launch, the exact date of which was not disclosed.
"In virtual reality, you are going to find yourself reminding your brain that this is not real," Oculus chief executive Brendan Iribe said during a media event at a studio space in San Francisco. "It is a paradigm change." Oculus did not disclose the planned pricing for Rift, which will come with an Xbox controller due to an alliance with console maker Microsoft.
"The opportunity for us to bring our wireless controller to every Oculus user at launch is incredibly exciting for us," Xbox division leader Phil Spencer said at the event. "We believe we will be able to create state-of-the-art virtual reality experiences on the Oculus on top of Windows (computer operating system)." Oculus founder Palmer Luckey also showed off a 'Touch' accessory that will let people essentially reach into virtual worlds to manipulate objects or issue commands with gestures. "You need to be able to pick up a gun from a table, fire it, and throw it away without even thinking about it," Luckey said. "You can light explosives, pull robots limb from limb, punch garden gnomes...lots of cool experiences."
Oculus was aimed squarely at video game lovers, with hands-on demonstrations of titles promised at a major Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event next week in Los Angeles. "There was always this distance between players and the game," said Oculus studios head Jason Rubin. "Virtual reality lets you step through that window; finally we can create worlds that feel real. 2016 is going to be an absolutely incredible year for gaming." Oculus said the headset will hit the market in the first quarter of next year.
Early versions of the headset, designed for immersive gaming and other applications, have built a strong following among developers and has won praise from analysts for limiting the motion sickness which affects users of virtual reality (VR) gear. Facebook last year bought the company for some $2 billion. Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that the acquisition of Oculus was a long-term bet that making the social network's offerings more immersive would pay off in the future. He suggested that the virtual reality technology could be applied to various offerings of the world's biggest social network. "People will build a model of a place far away and you will just go see it; it is just like teleporting," Zuckerberg said.