Having just released on March 28th, 2016 at a price of $599, the Oculus Rift hopes to capture a new audience of entrepreneurs and electronic enthusiasts alike. With enough backers from innovators in the software business, Oculus owner Facebook looks to grab a large part of the newly created virtual reality marketing space. With competitors like HTC, Valve, Sony, and Samsung they have their work cutout for them. One big advantage they have going for them is that they are the creators of the renewed virtual reality market while the competitors have jumped in to get a slice of the pie. This gives them a few years head start. Although we don’t yet know how the Oculus stands up to the competition, let’s take a closer look at how it got started.
Palmer Lucky was a 17 year old journalism major at California State University who liked to experiment with electronics in his spare time. His true passion lied in virtual reality and sci-fi. He was frustrated that there really wasn’t anything out on the market that satisfied this interest, so in 2010 he started to experiment with different devices in his parents garage. Two years later his 6th generation prototype named the “Rift” was being featured in a Kickstarter campaign to gain interest and money from the general public. This was the video that front-lined his campaign.
Much to his surprise his Kickstarter campaign raised $2.4 million. Not only did he attract other virtual reality enthusiasts, but he also attracted big name programmers like John Carmack who joined his side in helping to get this product off the ground. He even gained the interest of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg who was immediately impressed with the prototype headset. So impressed that in 2014 he offered to buy Lucky’s company for $2 Billion before a consumer version of the hardware was even available for sale. Palmer immediately obliged.
They would spend the next two years finalizing the hardware, creating their own virtual interface to greet new users called Oculus Home, and working with software developers to ensure that plenty of software would be available for the product’s launch on March 28th, 2016.