For the longest time, we’ve had an Oculus Rift headset in the office and we’ve been repeatedly blown away by the virtual reality prototypes people have created for it. Soon, you’ll be able to try it for yourself.
The Oculus Rift consumer model, which we’ve been waiting for since 2013, will be released in early 2016—quarter one, in business speak, so any time between January and March. The recent Crescent Bay model we tried really impressed us, but that was before the HTC Vive stole the show at GDC earlier this year. So the VR race is in an interesting place right now.
Oculus certainly sounds like it’s making huge leaps over the earlier model. The new Rift “builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay,” according to a recent announcement, “with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics.”
Also revealed recently were the recommended specs of the PC you’ll need to run this device. For what the company describes as the ‘full Rift experience’, you’ll need an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD 290 equivalent or greater, as well as 8GB of RAM, an equivalent processor to an i5-4590, an HDMI port and two USB ports. That’s quite a high bar for many consumers to reach, but by early 2016 they’ll be able to match those specs for a little less than it would cost them now. And those are mid-range graphics cards—in no way is VR outside the spending power of most dedicated PC owners. Obviously this is an important consideration for getting VR into people’s homes.
The next few months of VR development will be crucial. It’s expected that the Valve and HTC Vive headset, which is Oculus’s toughest competitor right now, will release by Christmas. Will the first to market be the one to win VR? It’s unlikely to be as straightforward as that. VR is something that many regular consumers will need to try before they’re going to be sold on the concept and its place in either their videogames or their everyday lives.
Seeing really is believing with VR—and seeing how quickly the tech has advanced has been incredibly exciting. There’s now a timeframe for when you can finally experience this for yourself.