oculus-rift-transparent-300x168Oculus Rift is seriously intense in every way. Not only is it an enormous business enterprise on its own, acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion, but this virtual reality device is capable of taking you to another world altogether, and is so heavy-hitting that it’s recommended you take a break within each half hour of using it. And not just anyone can get to that point to begin with, as it will require a super high-powered gaming PC to use the VR device in the first place.

Only available to developers in prototype version until now, the VR headset retails at $599 and is scheduled to be delivered to customers on March 28th.box

“Today, we’re incredibly excited to announce that the Oculus Rift will be shipping to consumers in Q1 2016, with pre-orders later this year,” the firm revealed in a blog post. “The Rift delivers on the dream of consumer VR with compelling content, a full ecosystem, and a fully-integrated hardware/software tech stack designed specifically for virtual reality.”

Wait, back up a second though–it’s not going to be quite that easy. As many shell out the initial bucks, 99% of them are going to discover that yes, they must also buy a new PC capable of handling the power of the headset. And while that’s a great excuse to fill the house with new technological toys, most are looking at spending at least $1000 on the accompanying PC. This doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone so far, however, as they’ve had so many orders that their site was having trouble processing payments.

“We are experiencing insanely high load,” tweeted founder Luckey Palmer.

2FD89F7100000578-3387222-image-m-15_1452097107805According to Brendan Iribe, Oculus CEO, there will be an all-in-one deal in the works, most likely to be released in February. Eager consumers will be able to snap up both the Rift and a compatible PC for a cool $1500 or so.

Development for the device has been in the works since Zuckerberg purchased Oculus, along with plans to make their social media apps VR compatible as well. Quality of the product is said to be amazing, and many expect this product–along with VR in general–to completely change how consumers look at and use gaming and entertainment applications.

The lightweight design features dual screens–one for each eye–along with integrated headphones for a 3D audio system. Not recommended for use by kids, the experience is said to be transforming, and according to Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson, the use of VR can actually cause changes in how a user thinks and acts. This release is being heavily compared to the availability of the first iPhone, and all that came with it in terms of transforming lifestyle and industry. There are also potential health hazards to watch for as it is a fact that the VR headsets can cause nausea, eyestrain, and headaches, with 10-minute breaks being advised during every 30-minute session. Users are also warned not to operate a vehicle or machinery if feeling ‘odd’ after a VR session.

Plenty of additional plans are in the works for this gadget, including partnering up with Microsoft, for use with the Xbox One controller. According to Microsoft, it will be have the capability to stream Xbox One games directly to the Rift.

2DACE7F600000578-0-image-a-5_1445540561578Along with the impending release, to usher in excitement of the Oculus Rift announcement further–along with ongoing enthusiasm for current NASA projects, the two companies worked together to delight crowds at CES 2016 this week. In an attempt to draw further attention to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), slated for 2018 and meant to put astronauts on Mars eventually, they partnered with Oculus Rift to give eventgoers a virtual reality tour of what astronauts would see upon riding in the 325-foot elevator to enter the Orion capsule at the top of the SLS. The idea is to let people in on the impressive size of the rocket–taller even than the Statue of Liberty. At lift-off, it provides a whopping total of 8.4 million pounds of thrust, and weighs 5.5 million pounds, carrying 154,000 pounds of payload.

To complete the experience of being ‘floated around the rocket,’ they have combined the Rift with a haptic chair and a 500W subwoofer to provide the experience of lift-off in what is said to be the most powerful rocket ever to be built.

NASA has also been involved in using 3D printed parts for a multitude of different projects going on, from 3D printed turbo pumps, to Mars spacesuits. As development and the actual building of the SLS forges ahead, we’ll continue to follow details–as well as on the Oculus Rift release.  Discuss this story in the Oculus Rift forum thread on 3DPB.com

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