Facebook announced it will pay $US2 billion for the virtual reality company Oculus VR.
The company creates the Oculus Rift headset, a gadget that lets user play a variety of video games.
Facebook said it will be using the hardware behind the company to create their own virtual reality platform.
In the past, virtual reality headsets were hindered by their limited field of view, making it appear like you were sitting in a dark room facing a television that was several feet from you.
But the Oculus Rift puts you inside the screen, with an enormous field of view expanding so that it fills your vision. With stereoscopic 3D built in too, the level of immersion is unparalleled.
Head-tracking technology allows the Rift to “keep up” as you turn your head to look around the virtual environment. The best way to describe it: You feel completely immersed in a virtual world. Your real-world surroundings disappear. It can even make you dizzy.
With the headset’s enormous popularity, many non-developers have purchased developer kits without the intention of developing games. The company recently announced they would be expanding into movies.
Here’s a taste of what you can do with the Oculus Rift developer kit right now. It will only get better especially after this recent acquisition.
The Oculus Rift attaches to a relay box, which then hooks up to your computer. This allows the headset to be lighter. The relay box can be plugged in by either an HDMI or DVI cable.
You can register at Oculus' official site, which will give you access to their custom Rift developer software and Tuscany demo.
The Rift comes with three sets of lenses (for nearsighted, farsighted, and those with contacts or perfect vision).
You can also adjust how close the screen sits to your face with the dials located on the side of the Rift.
The lenses expand the image to make it appear like it surrounds you, while in reality the Rift only has a 7' display, with a resolution of 1200 by 800 pixels.
One downside to the lower resolution is the 'screen door effect,' which makes images look a bit fuzzy. The consumer version is expected to have at least a 1920 by 1080 pixel display, which will mostly eliminate the issue.
RiftCoaster is a popular free tech demo that puts you at the helm of a medieval roller coaster. With the Rift's head tracking, you can peer over the edge of the cart, or look up into the sky.
For games that require more than just looking around, you can use a keyboard and mouse, an Xbox 360 controller, or the Razer Hydra motion controller. The Hydra features a magnetic field that allows for very precise positional tracking, and works great with virtual reality games.
For a less intense experience, 'Blue Marble' is a great demo that lets you float out in space, lazily drifting by Earth. You can add your own playlists to serenade your personal space odyssey.
It's not all tech demos; Multiplayer game 'Team Fortress 2' has full Rift implementation, as does Valve's 'Half-Life 2.' Combined with the Hydra controller, it's very immersive.
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