Virtual reality is the hot new thing in tech, but what is it and how does Oculus Rift fit in? We take a look.
Currently the darling of the gaming world, virtual reality is the next leap forward in the way we view and interact with the world around us. Arguably the most popular name amongst virtual reality pundits is the Oculus Rift.Originally founded in 2012, Oculus created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its VR headset. This headset is known as the Oculus Rift. The campaign gained a lot of traction and eventually ended up raising US$2.5 million. Proving that the interest in virtual reality was certainly there.In 2014, the company was purchased by Facebook for US$2 billion.
What is Oculus Rift?
After years of teasing and promising a consumer edition, the Oculus Rift finally went on sale in March 2016. Once a synonym for VR, Rift took so long to reach a consumer-ready phase, the company eventually started facing competition from companies such as HTC and Samsung (the Gear VR was made in conjunction with Oculus). Rift is a high definition, PC-powered (Mac is not supported) virtual reality headset. Unlike some other VR headsets, this one is not wireless and relies on a tethered cable connection.The consumer edition, at a cost of US$599, includes:
A headset (with integrated headphones and mic)
Xbox One controller
How Does It Work?
In order to get an accurate sense of distance and movement, Oculus Rift ships with a sensor designed to sit separately on a desk or shelf. The sensor tracks your movements within a specified area. It then translates these into comparative movement in the virtual reality environment you’re currently in. Unlike other devices which have touch trackpads, Rift has a separate remote which allows you to navigate home, back, forward or or adjust the volume. At E3 2016, Oculus announced its Touch controllers, a set of natural motion simulating controllers which aim to solve one of the biggest issues in VR, hand movements.Unfortunately these Touch controllers are not included in the current consumer version of the Rift, Oculus has instead opted to include an Xbox One controller.
Associated PC Specs
To use Oculus Rift, you need a high powered PC. Here are the recommended specs:
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
Processor: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
Memory: 8GB+ RAM
Output: HDMI-compatible 1.3 video output
Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit or newer
Inputs: 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0
If you’re not sure as to whether or not your PC is Rift compatible, the company has a compatibility checker which you can download here.
What Can I Do With Rift?
Rift allows you to see places you might never be able to visit or experience things like skydiving, that you might never do in real life. For now, VR is focused on gaming but developers are working on ways to expand its use beyond gaming and making it a useful tool in everything from education to travel and more.