June 18, 2013

Oculus Rift Headset Lands Major Funding Boost


Everything seems to be coming up roses for the Oculus Rift headset of late. Between a successful Kickstarter and plenty of notice coming from developers in the gaming community, it was safe to say that the Oculus Rift was on top of the world. But a new development that ended with some impressive new funding levels gave Oculus Rift an even better position with which to walk into the next several months.

While the successful Kickstarter netted $2.4 million in funding for the company, fresh investment recently arrived in from Spark Capital and Matrix Partners, who brought in an investment over six times that size, bringing an additional $16 million in funding in for Oculus Rift development. Not surprisingly, Oculus—the company behind the Oculus Rift—has big plans for that investment; specifically, the company intends to bring in some new staff to work the project, as well as launch experiments with newer technology, and in general build a “consumer VR gaming platform the likes of which the world has never seen.” Both Spark Capital and Matrix Partners will get seats on the board as part of that investment.

The Oculus Rift has already made quite a splash with gamers eager to get in on the action, with a wide field of view that measures fully 110 degrees diagonal and 90 degrees horizontal. Plus, the imaging is sharp, with a high-definition 1280 x 800 resolution—just a tick over 720p HD at 1280 x 720—and a full six degrees of freedom at low latency to make for a terrific overall experience for users.

Given that iFixit's April teardown of the developer kit devices netted a nine out of 10, it's a safe bet that this is going to be good stuff indeed. Granted, iFixit dealt with a developer kit model, so the final version may ultimately prove somewhat different than the version that's ultimately released. However, this may not be such a bad thing; Matrix Partners general partner Antonio Rodriguez referred to the system as “rough around the edges right now,” so a little refinement before its final release may ultimately prove welcome.

Indeed, looking at the earlier video that's come out around this suggests a bright and glorious future ahead in terms of gaming peripheral. There's no substitute, of course, for going hands-on with the devices, but the early video—especially the early video featuring Skyrim—shows that there's certainly plenty going on here and a lot of reason to take the Oculus Rift system seriously. Matrix Partners and Spark Capital, meanwhile, showed off about 16 million others.

There's no word as yet as to when the Oculus Rift will hit shelves, or even how much it will cost when it does—Oculus is, however, taking pre-orders on the devices at $300 each—but when it finally does arrive, it's likely to shake up gaming as we know it almost as much as the advent of the Internet did.




Edited by Alisen Downey



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