Virtual reality is something that has always stirred the imagination of the gaming community. Over the last year, excitement has been building for the Oculus Rift. Developed by Oculus VR, the hardware comes as a head-mounted display, screening high-definition, 3D visuals into the headset. But more than this, it provides a wide field of vision, granting the player the ability to rotate, look around and analyse their environment, with the aim of adding a new layer of immersion to whatever universe the user is taking part in.
It comes as no surprise then that the Rift immediately grabbed the attention of both developers and audiences when it began its month-long Kickstarter campaign in August 2012. After surpassing its $250k target on the first day, the Rift eventually went on to claim $2.4m dollars before the deadline.
As of Last week Oculus announced an additional $16m in private investment, stating that the funds would be used to “accelerate the development of virtual reality hardware, software and services.” This can be seen with plans for the improved, consumer version of the hardware, ‘Rift 2.0’ are already moving forward.
Strong support is now promised as developers, such as Gears of War creator, Epic Games, have indicated products will be ‘Rift compatible’ by the time the consumer model reaches stores. However, with developer kits already available for $300, YouTube is already showing a number of videos demonstrating individual gaming experiences of the product.
The gaming community have a history of overlooking new hardware not deemed to add a significant benefit to the traditional gaming experience. However the impact of this technology and the implications for the future are showing the potential to be massive. Of course only time will tell, but it could well be that virtual reality has finally arrived in a meaningful way to the gaming market.
Early versions of the Rift will work with PCs and smartphones, before a console counterpart hits stores at a later date. Additionally the Oculus VR website lists compatibility with Android’s Ouya as a future prospect.
Many now refer to the Oculus Rift as the future of gaming. This future may still be a little way off, with no set release date given for the consumer version of the product. However with developer kits already distributed, it’s entirely possible that virtual reality will be arriving sooner than we imagine.