What Is Oculus Rift — and Why Should You Care?

I visited a stunning Tuscan estate today occupied by a brick building that looked like it had been there for centuries. I climbed through one of its many windows and stood near a running fountain. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I was delighted to hear birds chirping as they flew by me.

This all happened as I sat at a desk in my office in New York City, while I played with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Its parent company, Oculus VR, was just acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

The headset displays a fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you are actually in the game. By moving your head from side to side, and depending on the game’s premise, you can see inside an airplane’s cockpit while you’re flying or dodge bullets during a battle scene.

Amid projections that the headset will truly change the way we play video games, some say the deal was a steal and huge win for Facebook, especially after shelling out $16 billion for WhatsApp just a few weeks earlier. But others are unsure of the purpose of Oculus and why there’s so much fuss surrounding it.

The device, which has roots on Kickstarter, is not yet on the market, but the surrounding hype has been unprecedented. Oculus VR put the product on Kickstarter about a year and a half ago — and on Tuesday, turned its a pipe dream of becoming a real product into a $2 billion acquisition offer. It’s a three-way win — for Oculus, Kickstarter and Facebook — and could also revolutionize the way people interact with others online.

While other virtual reality headsets already exist on the market, many have extremely high price points or are reserved for specific communities like the military. Pricing for the Oculus Rift has not yet been announced, but it will be competitively priced to fuel consumer interest and adoption.

Developers can currently purchase the Oculus Rift and the developer kit for $350, so they can build software and games that will work with the device.

Beyond gaming

The Oculus Rift’s main sights are set on video games, but it also plans to impact the way we consumer all media, including movies. Just consider watching Avataras though you’re running through the rainforest and dodging explosions.

Video tech startup Condition One is currently working on a documentary calledZero Point about virtual reality headsets made specifically for the Oculus Rift. Although the production was announced last year, the company recently released its first interactive trailer, which gives a fascinating taste of what we might see.

The Oculus Rift supports 3D movies and a 360-degree viewing experience —Zero Point will take advantage of both — but the trailer is limited to 180-degree angles for now. The two-minute clip, above, lets you move your mouse in different directions to see different perspectives, likening the experience to moving your head while wearing the Oculus Rift.

Source : Mashable

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