The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is finally available for preorder after what seems like an eternity of waiting. The system has undergone a number of changes since Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion back in 2014, and preorders for the final version went live this past Wednesday. The price is a steep $599, but consumer-ready VR equipment is a very young space so a steep early adopter tax is obviously expected.
As the V.R. pioneer turned cultural critic Jaron Lanier says, The most amazing moment of virtual reality is when you leave it, not when you’re in it”—the appreciation of life’s small moments that one experiences after battling make-believe dinosaurs or flying like Superman. You have really never seen reality until you’ve just come out of virtual reality,” Lanier has said.
The final version of the Rift is similar in design to the Oculus Rift Development Kit and the DK2 : a black plastic VR headset that you connect to a computer. This version features its own built-in headphones, which were missing in the earlier versions. The hardware is more powerful and complex than the development kit versions’, but the consumer model actually feels a bit lighter on the head. I didn’t notice it shifting on my nose or becoming misaligned when I moved my head, which occasionally happened when I was using the development kits.
The Touch by Oculus controllers are wireless hand grips equipped with face buttons, triggers, and analog sticks similar to halves of a conventional gamepad. They also have round, flat rings around the grips that are studded with small reflectors and work in tandem with a pair of positioning cameras to determine exactly where they oculus rift vr headset are in space. The positioning was surprisingly accurate; the Rift showed gray, texture-less models of the Touch controllers floating in space before starting the demo, and they were located precisely where they sat in reality. I had to peek under the Rift a few times to make sure the controllers where the Rift said they were.
The demo let me add more clay, remove clay, inflate or sand down different parts of the sculpture, and even paint the surface with an airbrush. A button on the left Touch controller brought up a color palette, and I could pick any color by pointing at it with my right hand and pulling a trigger. It even offered special features like holding up a plane through the sculpture so I could sculpt symmetrically, and spin the sculpture slowly while I worked with it like a lathe or a potter’s wheel.