|Oculus VR (Facebook, Inc.)
|12 April 2012 
|Developers: 29 September 2014
Consumers: 28 March 2016 
|600 USD (2016)
|Field of view
|400 g (approximate)
inertial, positional tracking, peripherals
TODO: Add relevant photos and/or videos.
Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display device developed by the Oculus VR company. It originally started as a Kickstarter project by Oculus' founder and inventor Palmer Luckey in August 2012. The Kickstarter campaign reached its goal in less than 24 hours.
The latest version is codenamed Crescent Bay, and was introduced in September 2014. The system features the head-mounted device, an infrared camera for position tracking and a wireless gamepad. Oculus also introduced it’s own controller, the Oculus Touch. These two controllers, one for each hand, will be available together with the consumer version of Oculus Rift. They offer movement tracking in all six degrees and haptic feedback through vibration and gestural recognition.
The consumer version of the device is scheduled to be released in March 2016.
The first mention of Oculus Rift appeared on the Meant to be Seen forums in a post made by Oculus inventor Palmer Luckey in August 21, 2009. In his post, Luckey writes about having already made good progress on his prototype and asks others to help him prepare his Kickstarter campaign.
Through the same forum discussion, John Carmack, a famous programmer and one of the authors of the computer game series Doom, found out about the Oculus prototype and offered his own experience with making HMDs. He was working on his own prototype but after testing out the Oculus Rift, he switched to it instead. His already famous persona helped advertise the Rift greatly and Carmack later left his software company to work on Oculus Rift full-time.
In August 1, 2012, the Kickstarter campaign for the device was launched. The goal was to crowdfund the developer version of Oculus called the Developer Kit 1, DK1 for short. Everyone who pledged at least 300 USD get the DK1. The pre-orders opened in September and they were quickly sold-out.
Oculus Rift went through several prototype stages. In January 2014, Oculus introduced the Crystal Cove prototype with new OLED displays and different movement tracking method now using an external infrared camera observing the movements of the device equipped with infrared diodes. The next iteration, the Developer Kit 2, was announced in March 2014. It featured improved resolution and a new, low-persistence AMOLED display. This version also left out the need to have the device connected to a control box first. Now it could be connected to the computer directly.
The latest prototype is called Crescent Bay and was introduced in September 2014. The infrared diodes are now present on the back of the device’s head strap as well. This way, a full 360-degree tracking was achieved. The new prototype also features new audio software that simulates binaural audio for more immersive experience.
In 6 January 2016, Oculus announced a new price of their consumer-ready model and costumers could pre-order the device which was planned to be released in 28 March 2016.
Oculus Rift is a fully enclosed, fully featured HMD, that means it is a standalone displaying device unlike the models that require a smartphone to be inserted into them. It features two AMOLED displays, one for each eye. The resolution has not been officially announced yet, but it is rumoured to be around 2160x1200 pixels. The refresh rate is 90 Hz and the field of view is approximately 110 degrees. The head-tracking is done by a separate tracking unit that tracks the position of infra-red diodes on the head-mounted piece in full 360 degrees range. Unlike the previous models, Crescent Bay also features positional audio system and attached headphones. It is also lighter than the previous prototypes (less than 380 g). As of July 2015, Oculus did not provide official information concerning these technical characteristics.
The consumer edition does not substantially differ from the Crescent Bay prototype.
Do note, however, that Oculus does not provide any technical specifications on their official website, so any details concerning the hardware has to be found searching through hands-on articles and early reviews.
Oculus Rift is among the first consumer-targeted HMDs on the market. As such is marketed as an entertainment device (gaming, 3D video, virtual presence) with secondary enhancement or treatment possibilities (phobia treatment, empathy training, virtual training).
Company & People
Oculus Rift is being developed by Oculus VR, an American technology company founded by Oculus’ inventor Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe in 2012. In March 2014, the company was acquired by Facebook.
- Palmer Luckey - The inventor of Oculus Rift and the original founder of the Oculus VR company.
- Brendan Iribe - Chief Executive Officer
- John Carmack - Chief Technology Officer
- Michael Abrash - Chief Scientist
- Michael Antonov - Chief Software Architect
- Jack McCauley - Vice President of Engineering
- Kickstarter campaign started in August 1, 2012.
- Development Kit 1 available through the Kickstarter in August 2012. It was also available through later pre-orders starting September 26, 2012. It was made unavailable in March, 2014
- Crystal Cove prototype introduced on Consumer Electronic Show in January 2014. It was not available to public.
- Facebook acquires Oculus in 25 March 2014
- Development Kit 2 announced in March 2014. Available to customers since July 2014.
- Announced on Oculus Connect conference in September 2014, the Crescent Bay prototype is the latest (July 2015) version of Oculus Rift. It is not available to public.
- Consumer version release date has been announced to be in the first quarter of the year 2016.
- Pre-orders for the consumer version started 6 January 2016.
- The device is planned to be available in 28 March 2016.
Ethical & Health Issues
TODO: Add information about nausea and disorientation while using the Oculus.
For more general issues connected with smartglasses, please see the Virtual Reality Devices synopsis.
Public & Media Impact and Presentation
The development of Oculus and the upcoming Consumer Edition was closely scrutinized by technology journalists the beginning of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign. Although the virtual technology is quite old, see the Virtual Reality Devices synopsis for more information on that, only a small percent of the target audience could afford such devices. The hype generated by Oculus Rift was mainly due to the low price the company could achieve.(ref) Facebook's acquisition of Oculus in March 2014 only perpetuated the enthusiasm for the platform as now Oculus had the financial backing by an international corporation.(ref) Since then, Oculus inspired several other virtual reality projects but remained the figurative flag-ship for this technology to the present.
TODO: Add impressions of the earlier prototypes.
The Consumer Edition is to be released in March 2016. Technology journalists tried this version on several technology conventions, such as the E3 2015, Web Summit 2015, and the Oculus Connect 2 conference.
PCWorld in an article titled "Oculus Rift is mind-blowing (if you don't barf)" magazine expressed their concerns about the duality of the technology. The article opens with concerns about the possible unusability of Oculus Rift fro those who are prone to motion and simulator sickness. For the author, this divides the potential target audience of the device into two groups - one that will greatly enjoy the otherwise excellent VR experience, and those who will not be able to use the device for prolonged periods of time or will be required to get accustomed to it first. This great experience, as the article continues, can be greatly worsen by a lapse in the performance of the device as a small lag in the visual representation can be "profoundly unsettling".
Article on the magazine Digital Trends compares the Consumer Edition with the previous Crescent Bay prototype. It mentions that the newer version is not significantly different to the prototype but that it fits more comfortably and is lighter. The article also mentions the addition of the slider that adjust the optics of the device so it can accommodate people with different interpupillary distance. The author says at one point that he "almost forgot [he] was playing a game" but also that he felt disoriented when he put the device off.
There is no public policy that considers this device specifically.
For more information about policies related to smartglasses, please see the Virtual Reality Devices synopsis.
Related Technologies, Projects or Scientific Research
TODO: Constellation tracking system + Oculus Touch controllers
For more information about this type of devices, please see the Virtual Reality Devices synopsis.
- Thank you! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1523379957/oculus-rift-step-into-the-game/posts/279771 (Retrieved Jul 8, 2015)