On a sunny Southern California afternoon, Oculus VR’s founder, Palmer Luckey, its VP of Product, Nate Mitchell, its press agent, a film crew, photographers and a pair of Engadget’s editors occupy a conference room in the company’s Irvine headquarters. While it’s the first time that most of the group has met in person, they’re all here with a common interest. This assembly is gathered to take a look at what is said to be the final development hardware design of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Outside of this intrigued mash-up of press and corporate executives, Oculus’ heads-up headset has managed to generate a lot of buzz in a reasonably short amount of time. The original concept was constructed from leftover parts in the garage of a tinkerer who was trying to create an affordable VR experience. Looking to further the Rift’s development, the newborn firm took to crowdfunding and smashed its 30-day Kickstarter goal of $250,000 by raising a colossal $2,437,429 this past August.
During its early fundraising days we managed to go hands-on with a crude prototype of the equipment which left us yearning to get our hands on a final development model. A few short months later at CES, the company teased a larger, redesigned 7-inch development model, but only allowed us to try out an updated test unit that featured a 5.6-inch, 1,280 x 800 display wrapped in several layers of black gaffer tape. Fast-forward to today and here I am waiting to test-drive that elusive headset that got away from us back in Las Vegas. With all of the buzz surrounding the company’s recent VR efforts, it’s time for Oculus to put up or shut up.
Gallery: Oculus Rift Development Kit hands-on