Early next year, consumers will finally be able to buy the Oculus virtual reality headgear that so impressed Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook that he spent $2 billion to buy the company.
Oculus VR announced on Wednesday that it would begin shipping its flagship Rift headset in the first quarter of 2016. Pre-orders will be accepted during the holidays. The company declined to release the sales price or technical details of the Rift, which has been available in a rough version for software developers for several years. The device will need to be used with a personal computer, which will handle the bulk of the computing necessary to create the illusion of another world that users can explore when wearing the headset.
The 2016 release date is a bit later than both Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, and Facebook had hoped for.
In March, Mr. Luckey said that “Everything is going horribly right,” referring to an earlier pledge he had made to sell the device in 2015 unless things went “horribly wrong.” Later that month, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, demonstrated a new virtual reality game at Facebook’s developer conference and said that people would be able to play it on a Rift this year.
But the technology used in the Oculus device, from sophisticated motion tracking to the computer processing required to display vivid three-dimensional images in real time, has proved challenging to create. Virtual reality has been a dream of the computer industry for decades, but early versions tended to cause motion sickness in viewers or offer a poor simulation of the real world.