Innovation

Oculus Rift: The smart person's guide

This comprehensive guide covers the history of Oculus Rift, its uses in business, and where it fits in the overall virtual reality market.

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset released in 2016. It relies on a PC to run and is considered to be part of the high end of virtual reality. Between a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and a $2 billion acquisition from Facebook, Oculus is a nearly dominant player in the VR space. Its consumer headset, though delayed in getting to market, is attracting the attention of consumers and businesses alike.

To help business leaders and innovators better understand Oculus Rift and its capabilities, we've put together the most important details and resources in this smart person's guide.

Executive summary

  • What is it? The Oculus Rift is a high end consumer virtual reality headset.
  • Why does it matter? Many think that Oculus is responsible for reigniting interest in virtual reality. The Rift is one of the first consumer headsets to hit the market.
  • Who does this affect? In the business world, it affects anyone who is considering making high quality virtual reality content.
  • When is this happening? Now. The headset is difficult to get a hold of, but that will change as the year wears on.
  • How do I get it? Online. But you'll have to wait.

SEE: Why virtual reality could finally mend its broken promise (TechRepublic)

What is Oculus Rift?

The revival of virtual reality is often attributed to the excitement generated by Oculus in 2012, when the nearly unknown company launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a surprisingly cheap (compared to the price tags of the past) virtual reality headset. Oculus raised more than a million dollars, and in 2014, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion. Two developer kits later, the consumer version is very slowly trickling into the market.

All that money and excitement is for a virtual reality headset supported by a high end PC that can fill 110 degrees of a user's field of view with imagery, creating an immersive experience. Sensors in the device mean that the image adjusts as the user looks up, down, or around. Later in 2016, Oculus plans to release natively-built hand controllers.

Much of the audience will be interested in the Rift for gaming, but applications for VR go well beyond that.

Additional resources:

Why does Oculus Rift matter?

The Oculus Rift matters because, if your business is interested in creating a high end virtual reality experience for whatever use, there aren't many options—basically you're going to be deciding between the Rift and HTC's Vive. Neither are cheap, yet businesses are still interested in getting in on what's perceived to be a cutting edge technology.

On a broader level, the success of virtual reality depends on adoption and Oculus plays an important role in getting VR into people's hands. And, as painlessly as possible.

Additional resources:

Who does this affect?

This affects anyone interested in that higher tier of virtual reality experience. The Rift will also probably delay your plans to dive in if your business is waiting on the consumer version, as there are some monstrous shipping delays.

Additional resources:

When is this happening?

Now. Sort of. As mentioned, Oculus is having shipping issues, so it's not as easy as walking into an electronics store or ordering it online and having a Rift in your hands in a matter of days. So, factor that into your workflow if you're designing a VR experience for the Rift that you need by a certain date.

Additional resources:

How do I get it?

With a lot of patience. Even though pre-orders were available in January, a "component shortage" has essentially ground order fulfillment to a halt. Currently, anyone ordering through the Oculus site can expect an August delivery. In May, select Best Buy stores around the country offered demos and very limited quantities of the Rift. You can also find some Rifts on places like Amazon, available from third-party sellers. The rollout has been rocky. Many are going to have to hold on to their DK2s a little longer because the Rift is not easy to get just yet.

Image: Oculus

About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox