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Oculus unwraps Rift VR headset, plans to ship it by March

Zach Miners | June 12, 2015
Oculus is also developing two ring-shaped controllers that let players interact with objects in games.

Oculus Rift
The Oculus Rift, when it ships in Q1 2016, will include an Xbox One controller and a sensor, at left, that plugs into gamers' computers

The future of gaming is closer than you think. Or at least, the future of gaming as envisioned by Oculus VR.

The company's Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that lets users play epic games with an immersive 360-degree field of vision, will ship by March of next year, and will include an Xbox One game controller. Oculus is also developing two ring-shaped controllers that will let players interact with objects in games like they might in real life.

Each hand-tracking controller, which Oculus calls Half Moon, will include buttons and triggers to let players, say, pick up a gun inside a first-person shooter game and use their fingers to fire it. Allowing people to interact with content inside virtual reality applications beyond just looking at it is a big challenge in VR development.

Oculus VR executives showed off prototypes of the Half Moon controllers during an event on Thursday in San Francisco in which they revealed many more details about the Rift. However, the company did not specify when the Half Moon controllers will ship to consumers.

During the event, the company unveiled the final version of the headset, a sensor for tracking players' movements, a Rift interface and a selection of games that will be made available at launch. The Rift will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows 10, and users will be able to stream Xbox One games to the Rift.

It was known that Oculus planned to launch the Rift commercially early next year. Oculus had also released some recommended specs for a Rift-compatible PC. But few other details had been disclosed.

Facebook bought Oculus VR last year for US$2 billion in a surprising move to own a piece of what the social network sees as the next big computing platform. More than 170,000 early development kit models of the Rift have already been shipped to developers around the world.

The final consumer version of Rift, shown Thursday by Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, looks like a black shoe box you wear over your face and has custom display and optics systems with two OLED screens. It will ship with a sensor users plug into their computer for tracking their movements. This is what will translate users' physical movements outside of the game into actions inside the game.

The Rift will include integrated headphones, but those can be removed if users have their own. There will also be a dial to adjust the distance between the unit's lenses.


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