Oculus Unveils Virtual Reality Headset for Consumers

Oculus unveiled the consumer version of its Oculus Rift headset at a press event in San Francisco Thursday. “Oculus Rift is going to deliver the magic of presence,” said Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe. “For the first time, we will finally be inside the game. This is going to change everything.”

Iribe described the headset as “incredibly” light, and said it is all wrapped in fabric. “We really wanted to make this a beautiful object,” he said. He also said that it will work for people who are wearing glasses.

Oculus will ship the Rift consumer headset in Q1 of 2016, but the company didn’t reveal any pricing details Thursday.

The Rift comes with a newly-developed tracking system that can track the position of the headset with low latency. The tracking system is also used for Oculus Touch, a new type of input device that will make it possible for users manipulate objects in virtual worlds with their hands. “We wanted to deliver hand presence,” said Oculus founder  Palmer Luckey, adding: “This is critical to the sense of overall presence.”

Luckey showed off a version of Touch that he called a prototype, and said that it will allow for gestures, object manipulation and more. He didn’t say whether Touch will ship with the Rift, but said that the input device will be demoed at E3.

The company did share a few more details about the Rift headset itself: It will come with integrated headphones, which can be removed in case users want to use their own headphones instead.

The Rift also comes bundled with a wireless Xbox One controller as an input device, which is part of a wider partnership between Oculus and Microsoft. The Rift headset, which needs a desktop computer to render virtual worlds, will natively work with Windows 10, and Xbox head Phil Spencer said Thursday that users will be able to play Xbox One games with the Rift.

The Oculus event was billed as a press conference preceding the E3 Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in the coming days, and naturally, the company out a big focus on video games, announcing several partner titles that will be shown at E3. Oculus head of developer strategy Anna Sweet said that the company wants to spend more than $10 million to foster independent game development for the Rift.

Games for Oculus Rift will be available through the Oculus Home store, a kind of app store available within the Rift. Home will give users VR preview trailers for games to get a feel of how they will look like in VR, but there will also be a desktop version that can be browsed without the headset on.

Earlier this week, preliminary pictures of the Rift headset accidentally leaked when Oculus launched a revamped version of its website. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said at the time that the images were “ancient” and nowhere close to the final version. The headset shown off in San Francisco Thursday definitely seemed evolved, and it looks like Oculus ditched the idea of a simple remote control for the more advanced Oculus Touch.

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