Facebook prepares to bring virtual reality to you

By Sarah Frier and Dina Bass

Facebook, Oculus virtual reality
REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Bloomberg – Facebook is getting ready to bring virtual reality to the masses. Oculus, bought by the social-media company last year, unveiled on Thursday the consumer version of Rift, a ski- goggles-styled headset that will ship in the first quarter of 2016.

It will work with Microsoft’s Windows 10 and use the software maker’s wireless Xbox One game controller, letting people work with computers in a virtual environment or immerse themselves in Xbox games. No prices were announced.

Both companies, along with Google, have invested in virtual reality and consider the technology a key part of how people will communicate and interact in the future.

Microsoft’s partnership with Oculus adds to its own efforts, which include HoloLens, an augmented-reality headset. The alliance is part of Oculus Chief Executive Officer Brendan Iribe’s plan to seek out partners to help make hardware.

The Facebook subsidiary also introduced a new technology that isn’t widely available to consumers, called Oculus Touch. The wireless gadget – think of a Wii controller – can be worn on the hands, helping people simulate interaction with items in a virtual world.

The prototypes, called Half Moon, will give people “the sense of feeling that your virtual hands are also your real hands,” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said.

“You need to be able to pick up a gun from a table, fire it and throw it effortlessly.”

For Facebook, which bought Oculus for about $2 billion a year ago, the Rift will mark its first direct foray into consumer hardware. Oculus has also worked with Samsung Electronics, which sells the Samsung Gear VR, a headset that uses technology from Oculus.



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