Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset developed and
manufactured by Oculus VR, a division of
Facebook Inc., released on
March 28, 2016.
Oculus initiated a
Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to fund the Rift's
development, after being founded as an independent company two months
prior. The project proved successful, raising US$2.5 million. In
Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion. In March
2017, after 3 years at the company, it was announced Oculus founder
Palmer Luckey was leaving Facebook.
The Rift has gone through various pre-production models since the
Kickstarter campaign, around five of which were demonstrated to the
public. Two of these models were shipped to backers, labelled as
'development kits'; the DK1 in mid 2013 and DK2 in mid 2014, to give
developers a chance to develop content on time for the Rift's release.
However, both were also purchased by a large number of enthusiasts who
wished to get an early preview of the technology.
The Rift has a
OLED display, 1080×1200 resolution per eye, a
90 Hz refresh rate, and 110° field of view. It has
integrated headphones that provide a
3D audio effect and rotational
and positional tracking. The positional tracking system, called
"Constellation", is performed by a USB stationary infrared sensor that
picks up light that is emitted by IR LEDs that are integrated into the
head-mounted display. The sensor normally sits on the user's desk.
This creates 3D space, allowing for the user to use the Rift while
sitting, standing, walking, or even jumping around the same room.
1.1 Initial prototypes
1.2 Development Kit 1
1.3 HD and Crystal Cove prototypes
1.4 Development Kit 2
1.5 Crescent Bay prototype
1.6 Consumer version
1.7 Rift for Business
2.1 System requirements
3.1 Oculus Home
4.2.3 Industrial and professional
7 See also
9 External links
Through Meant to be Seen (MTBS)'s virtual reality and 3D discussion
forums, Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus and longtime MTBS
discussion forum moderator, developed the idea of creating a new
head-mounted display that was both more effective than what was then
on the market, and inexpensive for gamers.
The first rough prototype was hacked together in 2011 by Palmer Luckey
(then 18 years old) in his parents’ garage in Long Beach,
John Carmack had been doing his own
research and happened upon Luckey's developments as a fellow member of
MTBS. After sampling an early prototype, Carmack favored Luckey's
approach and just before the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Id
Software announced that their future updated version of Doom 3, BFG
Edition, would be compatible with head-mounted display units.
In June 2012, during the E3 convention, Carmack introduced a duct
taped head-mounted display based on Luckey's
Oculus Rift prototype,
which ran Carmack's own software. The unit featured a high speed IMU
and a 5.6-inch (14 cm) LCD, visible via dual lenses, that were
positioned over the eyes to provide a 90 degrees horizontal and 110
degrees vertical stereoscopic 3D perspective.
The Development Kit 1
Development Kit 1
Rear view and control box
Two months after being formed as a company, Palmer's Oculus VR
Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on August 1 of 2012 for
their virtual reality headset, which was named the Rift. The main
purpose of the kickstarter was to get an
Oculus Rift prototype—now
referred to as DK1 (Development Kit 1)—into the hands of developers
to begin integration of the device into their games. DK1 was
given as a reward to backers who pledged $300 or more on Kickstarter,
and was later sold publicly for $300 on their website. These kits sold
at a rate of 4–5 per minute for the first day, before slowing down
throughout the week.
The Rift DK1 was released on March 29, 2013, and used a 7-inch
(18 cm) screen with a significantly lower pixel switching time
than the original prototype, reducing latency and motion blur when
turning one's head quickly. The pixel fill is also better, reducing
the screen door effect and making individual pixels less noticeable.
LCD was brighter and the color depth is 24 bits per pixel.
The 7-inch screen also makes the stereoscopic 3D no longer 100%
overlapping, the left eye seeing extra area to the left and the right
eye seeing extra area to the right. The field of view (FOV) is more
than 90 degrees horizontal (110 degrees diagonal), which is more than
double the FOV of previous VR devices from other companies, and is the
primary strength of the device. The resolution is 1280×800 (16:10
aspect ratio), which leads to an effective of 640×800 per eye (4:5
aspect ratio). However, since the Rift does not feature a 100% overlap
between the eyes, the combined horizontal resolution is effectively
greater than 640. The image for each eye is shown in the panel as a
barrel distorted image that is then corrected by pincushion effect
created by lenses in the headset, generating a spherical-mapped image
for each eye.
Initial prototypes used a
6DoF head tracker that is
normally 125 Hz, with a special firmware requested by John
Carmack that makes it run at 250 Hz, tracker latency being vital
due to the dependency of virtual reality's realism on response time.
The latest version includes Oculus's new 1000 Hz Adjacent Reality
Tracker, which will allow for much lower latency tracking than almost
any other tracker. It uses a combination of three-axis gyros,
accelerometers, and magnetometers, which make it capable of absolute
(relative to Earth) head orientation tracking without drift.
The Development Kit 1 also included interchangeable lenses that will
allow for simple dioptric correction.
The entire source for the Rift DK1 was released to the public in
September 2014, including the firmware, schematics, and mechanicals
for the device. The firmware is released under a simplified BSD
license, while the schematics and mechanicals are released under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
HD and Crystal Cove prototypes
In June 2013, a prototype of the rift that used a 1080p
LCD panel was
shown at Electronic Entertainment Expo. This step forwards to twice
the number of pixels as DK1 significantly reduced the screen door
effect and made objects in the virtual world more clear, especially at
a distance. The poor resolution had been the main criticism of the
This HD prototype is the only prototype of the Rift shown to the
public which did not turn into a publicly available developer kit.
In January 2014, an updated prototype codenamed "Crystal Cove" was
unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show, which used a special
low-persistence of vision
OLED display as well as a new motion
tracking system that utilized an external camera to track infrared
dots located on the headset. The new motion tracking system would
allow the system to detect actions such as leaning or crouching, which
was claimed to help alleviate sickness experienced by users when the
software did not respond to these actions.
Development Kit 2
The Development Kit 2
Oculus began shipping Development Kit 2 (DK2) in July 2014. This
is a small refinement of the "Crystal Cove" prototype, featuring
several key improvements over the first development kit, such as
having a higher-resolution (960×1080 per eye) low-persistence OLED
display, higher refresh rate, positional tracking, a detachable cable,
and the omission of the need for the external control box.
A teardown of DK2 revealed that it incorporates a modified Samsung
Galaxy Note 3 smartphone display, including the front panel from the
In February 2015, Oculus announced that over 100,000 DK2 units had
been shipped up until that point.
Crescent Bay prototype
In September 2014, Oculus once again presented an updated version of
the Rift, codenamed Crescent Bay. This version has a greater
resolution than the DK2, a lower weight, built-in audio, and
360-degree tracking thanks to the presence of tracking LEDs in the
back of the headset. Oculus has also licensed software library
RealSpace3D, which is expected to provide the Rift with HRTF and
reverb algorithms. During a panel at SXSW 2015, titled "Explore
the Future of VR", it was publicly announced for the first time that
the prototype uses two screens instead of one as previously
Oculus Rift CV1 from the back
Oculus VR announced on May 6, 2015, that the consumer version of the
Rift would ship in the first quarter of 2016 with pre-orders starting
on January 6, 2016, at 8 am PST. On January 5, 2016, the day
before pre-orders went live, in an update posted to the original
Kickstarter page, it was announced that all
Kickstarter backers who
pledged for a Rift development kit would get a free KickStarter
Edition Oculus Rift. On January 6, 2016, pre-orders started, at
$599.99. At the same time the shipment date was announced for
March 28, 2016. On January 16, 2016, shipping dates for new orders
of the Rift were delayed until July 2016 due to the amount of
pre-orders on day 1.
On March 25, 2016, the first batch of
Oculus Rift virtual reality
headsets began shipping to consumers. On April 12, 2016, customers
were notified that their shipments were pushed back due to early
component shortage. The dates varied between 3 and 8 weeks of delay in
regards to previous estimates.
The consumer version is an improved version of the Crescent Bay
Prototype, featuring per-eye displays running at 90 Hz with a
higher combined resolution than DK2, 360-degree positional tracking,
integrated audio, a vastly increased positional tracking volume, and a
heavy focus on consumer ergonomics and aesthetics.
Rift for Business
During Oculus Connect in June 2017,
Oculus VR announced and released
Oculus Rift for Business bundle for $900 USD which included the
Rift HMD, Oculus Touch controllers, and expanded warranty,
preferential customer service, commercial use license, three
constellation sensors, an Oculus remote, and three Rift Fits.
In June 2015, Oculus revealed that due to the rapid innovation in the
VR industry, it intended to release a successor to the Rift in around
2–3 years from the Rift release, and that it was already being
The remote originally included with the CV1, used for Home navigation
and with select titles. It was dropped after the Touch controller
became bundled with the
Oculus Rift headset.
Oculus Rift headset uses an
OLED panel for each eye, each having a
resolution of 1080×1200. These panels have a refresh rate of
90 Hz and globally refresh, rather than scanning out in lines.
They also use low persistence, meaning that they only display an image
for 2 milliseconds of each frame. This combination of the high refresh
rate, global refresh and low persistence means that the user
experiences none of the motion blurring or judder that is experienced
on a regular monitor. It uses lenses that allow for a wide field
of view. The separation of the lenses is adjustable by a dial on
the bottom of the device, in order to accommodate a wide range of
interpupillary distances. The same pair of lenses are used for all
users, however there are multiple facial interfaces so that the user's
eyes can be positioned at a different distance. This also allows for
users wearing glasses to use the Rift, as well as users with widely
varying facial shapes.
Headphones are integrated, which provide real time
3D audio effects.
This was developed from technology licensed from RealSpace 3D Audio,
The Rift has full 6 degree of freedom rotational and positional
tracking. This tracking is performed by Oculus's Constellation
tracking system and is precise, low-latency, and sub-millimeter
In May 2015,
Oculus VR announced "recommended" hardware specifications
for computers utilizing Oculus Rift, specifying a CPU equivalent to an
Intel Core i5-4590, at least 16 GB of RAM, at least an AMD Radeon
R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, an
HDMI 1.3 output,
USB 3.0 ports, and one
USB 2.0 port.
Oculus VR stated that these
requirements would remain in force for the life of the first consumer
model. The company also stated that while upcoming discrete GPUs for
laptops may be able to reach the required performance for Oculus Rift,
systems that switch between integrated and discrete graphics may not
handle output in a manner that supports the device.
Oculus Rift only
supports 64-bit versions of
Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 or later; Oculus
VR stated that the device would initially support Windows only in
order to focus on "delivering a high[-]quality consumer-level VR
experience"; support for
Linux and macOS will be developed in the
A hardware testing application is available, and
Oculus VR has
also certified and promoted specific models of pre-built computers
that meet these recommendations, from vendors such as Asus, Alienware
and Dell Inc., as being "Oculus Ready".
On October 6, 2016,
Oculus VR announced lessened hardware
recommendations, now suggesting an Intel Core i3-6100 or AMD FX 4350
CPU, at least a GeForce GTX 960 or equivalent graphics card, two USB
3.0 ports and one
USB 2.0 port, and
Windows 8 or newer. The company
stated that these lower requirements were enabled by the adoption of
motion interpolation; on systems that cannot handle full
90 frames per second rendering, the drivers will allow software
to render at 45 FPS instead, and generate frames based on
differences between them to send to the headset to maintain its frame
rate. Oculus promoted that these changes lowered the average hardware
cost of a PC meeting these specifications to US$500 and would also
enable certain laptops to run Oculus Rift.
Oculus Rift Constellation sensor
Constellation is the headset's positional tracking system, used to
track the position of the user's head as well as other VR devices,
consisting of external infrared tracking sensors that optically track
specially designed VR devices. The constellation sensor comes with a
stand of a desk lamp form factor, but has standard screw holes and can
be detached from this stand and mounted anywhere appropriate to the
The Rift, or any other device being tracked by the system, is fitted
with a series of precisely positioned infrared LEDs under or above the
surface, set to blink in a specific pattern. By knowing the
configuration of the LEDs on the objects and their pattern, the system
can determine the precise position of the device with sub-millimeter
accuracy and near-zero latency.
Constellation can be used with a single tracking sensor or with
multiple sensors working together. One sensor is included with the
Rift (without Touch) since in this scenario there are no tracked
controllers that could occlude this sensor.
If the user also purchases the Touch controllers, another sensor is
included in order to prevent the issue that the single sensor could be
easily confused and occluded by one or more of the Touch controllers
and hence block tracking of the other controller, the headset, or
both. In this configuration, the system is capable of tracking an
entire room, known as "room scale" virtual reality.
Oculus will allow third-party peripheral manufacturers to create their
own devices that are tracked by the system, providing an API for them
Oculus Touch controllers
As a result of a partnership with Microsoft, early
Oculus Rift units
were bundled with an
Xbox One controller. The reason for this
inclusion was that, in lack of motion controllers such as the Oculus
Touch, the majority of virtual reality games that had been in
development up to that point required a gamepad, so it was intended to
allow users to play those games without the need to purchase any
The Oculus Rift's motion controller system is known as Oculus Touch.
It consists of a pair of handheld units, one for each hand, each
containing an analog stick, three buttons, and two triggers (one
commonly used for grabbing and the other for shooting or firing). The
controllers are fully tracked in 3D space by the Constellation system,
so they may be represented in the virtual environment, and each
controller features a system for detecting finger gestures the user
may make while holding them. Initially released as a standalone
accessory for the Rift, pre-orders for Oculus Touch began on October
10, 2016, with priority granted until October 27 to those who had
originally pre-ordered Oculus Rift, and they were finally released
on December 6, 2016.
In August 2017, the standard Rift bundle was modified, replacing the
Xbox One controller with the Oculus Touch and adding a second tracking
When the user puts on the Rift and no other content is being outputted
to the headset, they are presented with Oculus Home. This is the
default environment of the Rift, allowing the user to launch VR
applications they own, see if their friends are using the Rift, and
purchase virtual reality content on the Oculus Home store from the
Oculus Home's store is curated to only allow applications that run
smoothly on the recommended hardware, and experiences are given
ratings for their comfort (such as causing motion sickness or jump
scares). However, developers do not have to use Oculus Home to
distribute content for the Rift; it is entirely optional.
The Rift does not appear to the user's operating system as a monitor.
Instead, custom Oculus drivers and a runtime service are used to allow
applications to output directly to the Rift, bypassing the operating
system and allowing for high refresh rates and low latency regardless
of the user's setup.
The user must have this Oculus PC runtime and the drivers installed in
order to use the Rift. The runtime service implements a number of
processing techniques intended to render an optimized VR experience.
These include stereoscopic separation, lens optical distortion, and
asynchronous re-projection, among others.
Content for the Rift is developed using the Oculus PC SDK, a free
proprietary SDK available for
Microsoft Windows (OSX and
is planned for the future). This is a feature complete SDK which
handles for the developer the various aspects of making virtual
reality content, such as the optical distortion and advanced rendering
The Oculus SDK is directly integrated with the popular game engines
Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, and Cryengine. This allows for developers
already familiar with these engines to create VR content with little
to no VR-specific code.
The Rift is an open platform, and thus developers do not need any
approval or verification to develop, distribute, or sell content for
it, and do not have to pay any licensing fees. The SDK however cannot
be modified or reused for other purposes or hardware without
Content developed for the Development Kit 2 using SDK version 0.8 or
above are compatible with the Rift; however content developed for the
Development Kit 1 or with older versions of the SDK will have to be
recompiled using the latest SDK version to be compatible.
On 21 December 2015, Oculus announced the release of their finalized
Rift 1.0 SDK, combined with the start of shipping their final version
Oculus Rift VR headset to developers.
At Oculus's 3rd annual conference (Oculus Connect 3), it announced the
new technology, called "Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW)". This technology
allows the Rift to compensate for the dropped frames. According to
Oculus, ASW reduces the minimum specs of a PC to run the Rift without
Main article: List of games with
Oculus Rift support
Oculus has stated that the Rift is primarily a gaming device and that
their main content focus is gaming.
Existing games with a first-person or fixed-camera perspective can be
ported to VR with some development effort. However, Oculus has stated
that the best virtual reality experiences are those that are designed,
from the beginning, for the Rift.
A number of AAA games have added Rift support (and can be played with
the Development Kit 2), including Project CARS, Elite: Dangerous, Euro
Truck Simulator 2, and Dirt Rally, as well as a number of indie games
AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity
AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity and Ether One.
Fans and hobbyists have also modded support for the Rift into several
popular titles which allow for extensive low-level modding, including
Minecraft and Flight Simulator X.
At the release event for the Rift in June 2015, Oculus announced 9
launch titles for the Rift, including EVE: Valkyrie by CCP and Edge of
Nowhere by Insomniac Games. It also announced that it was working with
other developers including Final Fantasy developer Square Enix, Rock
Band developer Harmonix, and The Order: 1886 developer Ready at
In July 2015, Oculus revealed that it was fully funding more than 20
second party high production value games made exclusively for the
Rift, one of these being Insomniac's Edge of Nowhere.
In July 2017, Marvel announced in the Disney’s D23 event that it
will be bringing 12 superheroes of theirs to VR with an Oculus
exclusive game called Powers United VR.
Oculus is including Oculus Cinema as a free application, which allows
the Rift to be used to view conventional movies and videos from inside
a virtual cinema environment, giving the user the perception of
viewing the content on a cinema sized screen. Oculus Cinema will
also have a networked mode, in which multiple users can watch the same
video in the same virtual space, seeing each other as avatars and
being able to interact and talk to one another while watching the
The Rift also offers the opportunity to view new types of media that
are impossible to view on regular monitors; 360° 3D videos and
'virtual reality movies' (an entirely new medium).
Spherical videos (commonly called 360° videos) can be viewed simply
by the user moving their head around, and the Rift opens up the
possibility for stereoscopic spherical videos (commonly called 360°
3D videos). In September 2014, NextVR announced that they would be
using a $200,000 camera rig to produce 360° 3D content for the Rift,
including short films, as well as livestreaming live events such as
sports or concerts in 360° 3D. In July 2015, Oculus announced a
deal with Canadian film company Felix & Paul Studios to produce
360° 3D videos for the Rift.
The Rift also supports a new medium of entertainment experiences,
which Oculus calls "virtual reality movies". Oculus has established
Oculus Story Studio
Oculus Story Studio to develop this type of content for the Rift, a
team which has multiple former employees from major VFX companies such
PIXAR and ILM.
Oculus Story Studio
Oculus Story Studio showed off its first VR movie,
Lost, at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, gaining positive reviews
The studio intends to have 5 VR shorts released with the Rift at
launch, including Lost, Bullfighter, Henry, Dear Angelica, and
The Oculus rift is increasingly used in universities and schools as an
educational tool. The ability to provide an immersive, engaging
environment can assist a diverse range of students for learning. In
particular, there appears to be benefits to medical, health science
and exercise students when utilising the
Oculus Rift as a supplement
for content provided in anatomy and physiology. There is also an
increasing uptake of the oculus rift within curricula in other fields
such as marketing, architecture, clinical education, computer
science and paramedics.
A visitor at Mozilla Berlin Hackshibition trying an Oculus Rift
virtual reality experience on Firefox
Oculus believes that social applications will be the most popular
virtual reality experiences in the long term. A number of social
applications for the Rift are in development, and it is expected that
there will be significant competition in the sector.
In May 2015,
AltspaceVR launched a public beta for DK2 owners to try
out their social VR platform.
AltspaceVR allows people to inhabit a
shared virtual space with spatial voice communications, cast content
from the Internet on virtual screens, and interact with objects
(allowing activities such as playing chess or other board games). It
also supports extra hardware like eye tracking and body
In 2013, Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life, left Linden Lab
to work on a new virtual world designed for the Rift, called High
Fidelity, which will link thousands of user-hosted virtual
environments together into a consistent virtual world.
In May 2015, Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, announced
that they too were working on a new virtual world, codenamed Project
Sansar, built for virtual reality headsets such as the Rift and Gear
VR. Like Second Life, Sansar will be hosted on Linden's servers and
lease virtual land to players, on which they can build and sell
virtual items and services (which Linden will take a cut of). Linden
Lab hoped to release Sansar by the end of 2016.
Industrial and professional
As well as consumer uses, the Rift has attracted significant interest
from industry and professional spheres for productivity enhancement,
visualization, and advertising.
A number of architecture firms have been experimenting with using the
Rift for visualisation and design. With the right software, the Rift
allows architects to see exactly what their building will look like
and get an understanding of the scale that is impossible on a
In early 2015,
Audi started using Rift Developer Kit 2's at
dealerships to help customers configure the car they are interested
in, as well as to see what driving a race in the car would be
Norwegian Army has been experimenting with the Rift Development
Kit 2 to allow for a greater situational awareness of armoured vehicle
drivers and commanders.
The use of
Oculus Rift on an innovative virtual operator station
assists the control of a teleoperated military mobile robot Tactical
Robotic System (TAROS). Human operator can have intuitive control and
meduate 3D view from stereovision cameras. 
In October 2016, the television series Halcyon was released as a
"virtual reality series", where some episodes are broadcast on
conventional television. and some as VR content for Oculus Rift. It is
a crime drama following the world's first "VR Crimes Unit" in
Fox Sports began producing content for the
Oculus Rift and other
virtual reality systems in fall 2016. Its initial content consisted
Fox College Football
Fox College Football coverage.
Some online casinos have started using
Oculus Rift to provide a unique
online casino experience. A user can play slots and experience the
lobby of a casino through a computer using a VR headset.
Main article: ZeniMax v. Oculus
ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, which in turn
owns Id Software, presented a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the
Oculus Rift was the product of intellectual property owned by ZeniMax,
John Carmack during his time working for Id Software. The
jury ruled partially in favor of ZeniMax, finding the defendants did
not steal trade secrets but had violated a non-disclosure agreement.
Facebook and some of the Oculus corporate officers were ordered to pay
a total of USD 500 million. On March 10, 2017 it was revealed that
Carmack was suing ZeniMax for USD 22.7 million it owed him from their
purchase of id Software.
This section needs expansion with: Too many one-liners. Needs actual
reception and criticism. You can help by adding to it. (October 2016)
Oculus Rift received generally positive reviews from gaming and
tech websites. Wired gave 9 out of 10 stars to
Oculus Rift and wrote,
"The long-promised virtual reality headset is finally here, in a
remarkably well-made and accessible device." A review by Dan
Stapleton of IGN says, "The
Oculus Rift is the first headset
available, and it does a fantastic job of not just displaying
high-quality VR, but making it easy to use." Many reviewers also
wrote about the shortcomings of Rift, such as a hefty price tag ($599
in US) and the need of a powerful PC to run it.
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal wrote, "The first totally immersive home
virtual reality rig is a pricey, awkward, isolating—and occasionally
brilliant—glimpse of the future of computing."
The Verge said,
"Virtual Reality: 8/10.
Virtual reality is always almost here."
Samsung Gear VR
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