Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets to start shipping in early 2016

​Oculus Rift, the virtual reality hardware maker bought by Facebook last year, is finally on its way to delivering its innovations to the real world.

Oculus VR, the virtual reality hardware maker bought by Facebook last year, is finally on its way to delivering its innovations to the real world.

The Silicon Valley darling announced on Wednesday that it will start taking pre-orders for its first consumer VR headset model at an unspecified date later this year. Shipments are scheduled to go out the door as soon as the first quarter of 2016.

"The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics for a more natural fit," the Oculus team divulged in a blog post.

Aside from a release date, one other logistical question remains unanswered. A price tag has not been revealed yet.

To tide over early adopters, Oculus did offer a sneak peek at what the final product will look like -- although suffice to say based on the images, the gadget is still shrouded in relative mystery.

Oculus promised it would follow up with more details about hardware and software specs in the coming weeks.

Developers would have better luck as an online community has already been set up for would-be VR developers and other creative professionals, stocked with some initial tools and SDKs for building apps for the device.

Oculus, which continues to work somewhat autonomously from its Southern California headquarters, has since established its own film studio as well as a partnership with mobile tech titan Samsung.

Facebook's multi-billion dollar acquisition of Oculus VR probably has some followers still puzzled, but the social network offered extra foresight into its vision for the subsidiary during its F8 Developer Conference in March.

"Virtual reality -- done right -- truly is reality as far as the observer is concerned," argued Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash while speaking at F8, theorizing later that VR technology will evolve to provide not only any experience possible in the real world, but any experience that is possible having at all.

For instance, VR will permeate daily life so much that people will want to pick up their coffee cups with VR headsets still on, he also suggested.

Continuing that reasoning, the Oculus team boasted in the announcement VR will "transform gaming, film, entertainment, communication, and much more."

The possibilities are already been realized in other industries too.

Marriott Hotels, for example, plans to use VR to change the way people make travel plans, starting with Oculus Rift-equipped booths (dubbed "Teleporters") for creating sensory experiences and luring potential customers to its destinations in the real world.

Healthcare, an industry continuously brought up as ripe for disruption thanks to the cloud and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, could be the biggest boon for the VR market.

Some of the applications already being discussed (if not already developed and deployed) include surgical training, meditation, brain damage assessment, and treatment for PTSD.

For more use cases and tips about how VR could apply to building better brands, click over to our sister site TechRepublic for more insight.

Image via Oculus VR