Oculus Rift Release Slated for Early 2016

Oculus Rift is arguably the headset that kickstarted the current trend toward virtual reality, which makes it unusual that the device has still not seen a consumer release. It seems that 2016 may finally be the year when that changes. Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift, has announced that the device will most likely launch in the first quarter of the year.

Woman with Oculus Rift | Credit: OculusWoman with Oculus Rift | Credit: Oculus

For confirmation, look no further than Luckey's Twitter feed. The inventor and CEO said that he was "thrilled" that manufacturing of the Oculus Rift consumer models was on point, and that the device should be ready sometime in the first three months of the upcoming year. In a follow-up tweet, the VR mogul added that preorders won't begin until next year, in order to allow everyone to "enjoy a stress-free holiday."

MORE: VR Headset Mega Guide: Features and Release Dates

Oculus has since doubled-down on that release date. A week after Luckey's tweets, the company confirmed a first quarter of 2016 release date for the Oculus Rift when announcing via a blog post that Lucky's Tale, a VR platformer game, would be included for free on every headset.

The Oculus Rift, for those who don't keep up with the increasingly confusing world of VR tech, is a headset that allows users to experience games, movies, concerts and other types of media as though they were firsthand participants rather than real-world people sitting a few inches away from a screen. While the Oculus Rift is not the first or only such headset, it has some of the most widespread developer support currently available in the world of VR.

Although the release date is now more concrete, the device's price is still a mystery. The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 headset was available for a while to engineers who wanted to get a jump start on VR programming (although it's now sold out), and it cost $350. Whether that will be a reliable bellwether for the final version's price, though, is anyone guess: The final product will sell to a wider audience, but will also (in theory) be much more user-friendly and feature-rich.

If you absolutely can't wait a few more months for VR, there are other solutions available, such as the Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. Otherwise, 2016 may very well be the year when VR hits the mainstream — or when it proves that the world is not quite ready for consumer-grade headsets.

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