Oculus VR: The story so far

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Oculus VR: The story so far

For decades people have been dreaming of a virtual reality (VR). VR is a technology that allows you to experience games as if you were part of it. Until now there have always been two major bottlenecks in creating a virtual reality:

  • lack of processor power
  • and a lack of affordable VR headsets

 

In recent years the processor power has increased significant, and the upcoming launch of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset seems to solve the second bottleneck.
The beta version of Oculus Rift gives a compelling look into the future of virtual reality.

The term “virtual reality” dates from 1938, and was conceived by Antonin Artaud. He was a French writer and actor who wrote in his book ‘The Theatre and Its Double’ about a virtual theater, in which fictional actors acted.

 

Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey

 

A typical virtual reality setup consists of a powerful computer, a head-mounted display (HMD) that can display stereoscopic 3D images, sensors that can detect head movements of the carrier and one or more input systems such as gloves with sensors or motion sensors. Because you can really look around you and can interact with the virtual environment it really feels like you are in a virtual world.

For a long time VR technology was limited to scientists and the military with powerful computers and a large budget for the headsets. But computers are becoming more and more powerful. The average gamer has a system that can easily render complex 3D worlds. But the hardware to see those worlds in 3D is not available, or rather not affordable. This is what the American Palmer Luckey with his company Oculus VR wants to change.

 

Origin of Oculus VR

 

The 21-year-old Luckey’s been since his childhood in love with VR and said that he owns the largest private collection of virtual reality headsets in the world. He asked over a year ago wondering why does not have affordable VR headsets, and was determined to change that. And with success: through his Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign, he raised $ 2.4 million for the development of an affordable virtual reality headset, which was named ‘Oculus Rift’. Oculus VR received an extra boost when John Carmack joined the Oculus VR team. John Carmack is a legend in the world of 3D gaming through his involvement with games like Doom and Quake.

 

The Oculus Rift development kit

In the past year Oculus VR received two more fundings, with a total worth of $ 91 million. That money is needed not only to develop the hardware, but also to investigate the occurrence of virtual reality sickness (simulator sickness). Virtual reality sickness is the phenomenon in which some people who use a VR headset get sick. The funding is also need to develop development tools and a healthy community of developers. In order to be truly successful VR’s next hardware will obviously needs to have enough content – games, simulations, etc. that makes optimal use of the opportunities that a headset like the Oculus Rift offers.

To get developers excited Oculus VR has a clever strategy by offering developers the so-called Oculus Rift Developer Kit. The Oculus Developer Kit is a beta version of the Oculus Rift which developers can use to make their games and other programs to fit for virtual reality. That Dev Kit, as the set is called, consists of a headset, some cables and a special box which connects the computer and headset. The Dev Kit has already been sold more than 40,000 times and is currently out of stock. Many developers, including NASA, are now developing VR applications.