The Frontrunner in VR Headsets: Oculus Rift / by Rosana Vidal

  Image courtesy of The Guardian

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Oculus VR made headlines last year when it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. The virtual reality technology startup debuted its VR headset, the Oculus Rift (one of the tools we use here at floorplanGRP) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2012 and has been the forerunner in VR technology for gaming ever since. Oculus VR was started by head-mounted display (HMD) designer Palmer Luckey along with Brendan Iribe, a co-founder of game engine developer Scaleform in 2012. Luckey and Iribe set out to create a head-mounted display that was more effective than those currently on the market, and affordable for gamers. The company was named Oculus, after the Latin word for “eye.”

At the start of Oculus’ Kickstarter campaign, the plan was to make around 100 HMDs to distribute to VR enthusiasts. The headset was named the “Rift” because, as Luckey explained in a popular VR forum, “the HMD creates a rift between the real world and the virtual world.” By the time the Kickstarter campaign ended in September 2012, it had thousands of backers, many of whom were interested in acquiring one of the headsets. The prototype, called the Rift Development Kit 1 (DK-1), was given as a reward to the 7,500 backers who pledged $300 or more on Kickstarter, and was later sold publicly for $300 on the Oculus VR website. Oculus sold 60,000 units before stopping production in 2014. The Rift DK-1 used a 7-inch LCD screen with stereoscopic 3D, and the kit included interchangeable lenses, firmware, schematics, and mechanicals for the device. Many users reported nausea when wearing the DK-1 for too long, so Oculus debuted the Crystal Cove prototype, which included a better screen and motion sickness reduction.

  Image courtesy of oculus.com

Image courtesy of oculus.com

On March 25, 2014, days after the announcement of the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2), Facebook announced the acquisition of Oculus VR via Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. Zuckerberg explained that Oculus would continue running independently within facebook to “build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games.” He also alluded to applications of the Rift beyond gaming, including education and communication.

In May of 2015, Oculus confirmed that the rift will become commercially available during Q1 of 2016. During E3 the following month, they listed 9 new games that will be available to play when the Rift becomes available, including EVE: Valkyrie, a multiplayer shooter designed for VR; Edge of Nowhere, a third-person action-adventure, and Esper, a puzzle game set in 1975. As of this year, Sony, Valve, and Google have started to create their own head-mounted displays. While most of the excitement around Oculus Rift and other HMDs has been coming from the gaming industry, uses in the fields of health care, education, and architecture and modeling are being explored. Notably, Oculus Rift allows architects to build and explore their creations in a virtual environment without the need for any physical resources. Head mounted displays like the Rift allow us to create fully immersive experiences for the real estate community -- and we’ll be sure to keep you tuned in to developments in the world of VR and the Rift.