Oculus teaming with Microsoft as Rift becomes a reality

Oculus also committed to invest more than $10 million in hopes of accelerating the development of independent games for the Rift.


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SAN FRANCISCO---Virtual reality developer Oculus VR is finally turning some of its concepts into, well, reality.

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"Gamers have been dreaming about this for decades, and now it is finally here," said Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe during an invite-only media presentation on Thursday.

Oculus, Iribe explained, was founded to transform consumer gaming and entertainment as we know it. Virtual reality, he continued, is meant to deliver that "visceral feeling" that people feel in the real world.

With the long-awaited consumer launch of Rift, Iribe boasted gamers will be going inside the game for the first time.

"There's been something missing. It's always been trapped behind a 2D display," opined Iribe while briefly recounting the history of gaming over the last few decades.

Iribe went so far as to suggest that the technology is so precise and effective that gamers would need to be reminded that "dinosaurs hovering over them" aren't actually real.

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At the heart of making all of this possible is the Rift tracking system is what enables the future of virtual reality, essentially tricking both the user's visual and audio senses.

Although it still looks quite hefty (requiring both hands to place and secure around one's head), the matte black headset sports refined, lightweight ergonomics with a form factor said to have "evolved" in order to better accommodate glasses.

But to get Rift to market, the company has tapped a powerful force in not just the gaming industry but technology worldwide: Microsoft.

The tech stalwart has already revealed some of its own plans for virtual reality, namely Microsoft's own HoloLens virtual reality headset in development.

Rift will natively work with Windows 10, which ships on July 29, with the goal of encouraging developers to build native experiences on an open platform. Xbox One games and other entertainment can be streamed to Windows 10-based devices.

Thus, Rift can link up with a wireless Xbox One controller and adapter - both of which will be included in the box when shipped.

Oculus is also developing its own handheld controllers and triggers dubbed "Oculus Touch," recognizing hand presence and communicative gestures ("finger poses" such as waving or giving a thumbs up).

Outside of the partnership with Microsoft (as well as highlighted collaborations with Nvidia and PC makers), Oculus committed to invest more than $10 million in hopes of accelerating the development of independent games for the Rift.

Despite previous overtures about deploying VR for revolutionizing other industries from travel to healthcare, Oculus glossed over (or ignored entirely) everything besides gaming on Thursday.

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The VR hardware maker bought by Facebook last year unveiled some developments during a media presentation on Thursday morning ahead of the annual E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles next week.

In May, the Silicon Valley darling announced it would start taking pre-orders for its first consumer VR headset model at an unspecified date later this year. At the time, Oculus promised it would follow up with more details about hardware and software specs in the following weeks.

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

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

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey concluded on stage, "This isn't science fiction. This is reality, and it's happening today."

Although a specific date still wasn't revealed, the consumer version of Rift is still scheduled to ship during the first quarter of 2016. Pricing has still not been announced.

Images via CNET


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