The long-awaited commercial version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will begin shipping to customers in the first quarter of 2016, Oculus VR announced Wednesday. The Rift, which has been widely praised for its high level of immersion, has so far only been available in a developer’s version. Oculus will begin accepting pre-orders for the device later this year.
Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion last March in a move both surprising and a sign that virtual reality is one of the next-big ticket bets in Silicon Valley. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long-term plans to develop Oculus into a “
communication platform,” the Rift for now remains primarily focused on gaming experiences.
“It’s a system designed by a team of extremely passionate gamers, developers, and engineers to reimagine what gaming can be,” Oculus said in a
blog post announcing the new shipping window.
Further details about the commercial version of Rift are expected to be announced at E3, an annual California gaming expo set for June 16-18.
Facebook is not the only tech giant investing in VR. Sony has a virtual reality headset called Morpheus in the works for PlayStation 4, while Microsoft is taking a slightly different tack with its augmented-reality headset HoloLens. HTC and Samsung are also working on virtual reality headsets, though the latter’s product is the result of a partnership with Oculus.
See The Incredibly Goofy Evolution of Virtual Reality Headsets 1988
Andrew Mishkin wearing a 3-D virtual display helmet that is connected to a six-wheeled roving vehicle. The rover was meant to explore the surface of Mars and send back information. Roger Ressmeyer—Corbis 1993
"Reality +" at the Virtual Reality Systems 93 show was described as a next generation, multi-player virtual reality entertainment system that gave a high sense of movement in a computer-generated world revealed in a head-mounted display. Alex Brandon—AP 1993
The 3-player Budweiser virtual reality mask at the Food Marketing Institute's International Supermarket Industry Convention and Educational Expostion in Chicago. Mike Fisher—AP 1993
A Virtual Reality contraption at the Sci Fi Channel booth at The National Cable Television Association annual convention, in San Francisco. George Nikitin—AP 1994
Soldier training using a virtual reality-simulated 3-D shootout at an Army facility. Ben Van Hook—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images 1995
A visitor checking out a virtual reality head-set at the G7 Information Society Showcase taking place at the European Parliament. The head-set was linked to a camera elsewhere in the building which the visitor could control through head movements. STR/Reuters 1998
A researcher at Tokyo University's Intelligent Modeling Laboratory wearing 3-D glasses, extending his hands to touch carbon atoms in the microscopic world at the laboratory's virtual reality room. Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images 1999
Visitors enjoy virtual reality driving with 3-D goggles and driving simulators for the presentation of Japan's automaker Nissan at the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo. Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images 2003
A visitor to the " Ars Electronica in a dish installation " Humphrey II" , which allowed virtual free flight through a 3D reconstruction of the city of Linz. Peter Zschunke—AP 2005
A girl wore a full color head mounted display with a built-in camera as Japan's machinery maker Hitachi Zosen and Shimadzu unveiled a wearable computer, consisting of the HMD and a palm sized Windows XP PC with a pointing device at a virtual reality exhibition in Tokyo. Yoshikazu Tsuno—;AFP/Getty Images 2006
Lt. David Shipley of the Adams County Sheriff's Department watched an interactive video that replicated the experiences of a schizophrenic patient having auditory and visual hallucinations while attempting to refill a prescription at a pharmacy. Karl Gehring—The Denver Post/Getty Images 2008
Valeria Petkova, right, and student Andrew Ketterer, left, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, tested the 'body-swap' illusion, a method whereby people can experience the illusion that either a mannequin or another person's body is their own body. Niklas Larsson—AP 2012
Raphael Pirker from Switzerland, founder of Team BlackSheep used virtual reality goggles to simulate the sensation of flight in the real world during a demonstration, flying from the perspective of a model aircraft, during a session of LeWeb'12 in Saint-Denis, near Paris. AFP/Getty Images 2012
A man seeking a job was equipped with 3D spectacles with sensors as he trained in Clermont-Ferrand, central France with avatars (background) in a virtual reality cube, at business incubator Pascalis. Thierry Zoccolan—AFP/Getty Images 2012
Jan Torpus, director of Lifeclipper project, tested the immersive augmented reality equipment in St Johanns Park in Basel, Switzerland. Sebastien Bozon—AFP/Getty Images 2013
Professor Karl Oldhafer, chief physician of general and visceral surgery at the Asklepios Hospital Hamburg-Barmbek, before liver surgery. Oldhafer used augmented reality, which allowed the liver to be filmed with an iPad and overlaid during the operation with virtual 3D models reconstructed from the real organ. This procedure helped locate critical structures such as tumors and vessels and was expected to improve the quality of transferring pre-operational resection plans into actual surgery. Fabian Bimmer—Reuters 2014
British television presenter Rachel Riley showed a virtual-reality headset called Gear VR during a Samsung event ahead of the consumer electronic fair IFA in Berlin. Markus Schreiber—AP 2014
Tim Draper, Founder and Managing partner of 'Draper Fisher Jurvetson', tried out the latest in virtual reality technology the 2014 Kairos Global Summit at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Nigel in Dana Point, California. Jerod Harris—Getty Images for Kairos Soceity 2014
A man played a game with the virtual reality head-mounted display 'Oculus Rift' at International Games Week in Berlin. The display transfers the eye movements to the game in real time. Daniel Naupold—Daniel Naupold/picture-alliance/ Microsoft's Lorraine Bardeen demonstrates HoloLens headset during an event at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash. on Jan. 21, 2015. Elaine Thompson—AP More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does Column: The New Antisemitism The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time