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Oculus Rift

One Year with the Oculus Rift: The Age of VR Matures

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Oculus Rift’s consumer launch, how has the industry changed in that time?

The Oculus Rift launched to consumers one year ago today. In that time we’ve seen numerous competitors enter the market – namely the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR – and a swathe of software covering everything from videogame entertainment to education, healthcare to industrial application and beyond. VRFocus has taken the time to reflect on this first year, and what could lie ahead in the year to come.

Oculus Rift consumer version

“From my point of view the first year has been a success, since the major first obstacle (making the public care enough to buy the thing) was a success,” states Kevin Eva, Community Manager at VRFocus. “The public is more interested, business is more interested. Videogame studios are making money, which, as is the way of things, is convincing other studios to join. Not a day goes past where there’s not a new story about VR being used for some form of creative use outside of entertainment.”

Peter Graham, Staff Writer at VRFocus agrees that the first year of consumer VR achieved a lot of its goals, however is cautious in how much is yet to be done: “What a year it’s been. The hopes and optimism that existed 12 months ago still exist but have become somewhat muted, with the industry still looking for killer apps to sell VR. That being said there’s an awful lot of promise on the horizon with developers really starting to get into their stride, finding out what does and doesn’t work in VR.”

On that note of caution, Eva adds: “Prices are coming down, of which Oculus has been a big and often unthanked worker in making that happen. Has it been plain sailing? No. There were a number of rough patches during those twelve months and some look set to be a part of VR’s life for some time yet. (See: ZeniMax Media.) But VR is now such that people are already accepting it as part of life, the spectre of the 90’s has been lifted and people are asking ‘Hey, so what else can this thing do?’

“What else indeed. Let’s all find out.”

That open invitation for the public to join in with the enthusiasm for VR has not been exclusive to VRFocus. New hire, Rebecca Hills-Duty, Staff Writer, has been welcomed into the fold and is finding VR to be much more inclusive than she expected:

“I admit I’m a bit new the VR scene, but 2016 was when I really became aware of it, and how big it was becoming. Not just in videogames, either. It seemed like all of a sudden talk of 360-degree video and VR simulations and recreations was everywhere. I got my first brush with VR myself, first with a Gear VR and then the HTC Vive and Google Earth VR. Though it wasn’t until I came to work for VRFocus that I realised just how huge the potential in this area is. 2016 was a big year for VR. 2017 is going to be Epic.”

Reflecting on the hardware currently available, Nina Salomons, Video Content Producer at VRFocus states: “Oculus VR’s headsets is by far one of the most comfortable, (even if you still get VR hair after an experience) and with Facebook’s help, it is evident that Oculus is truly innovating the VR marketplace.”

Graham is more concerned with the peripherals available than the head-mounted display (HMD) itself however, confident that the push for motion-control input promises to deliver on more of VR’s potential: “Building presence in VR is key, and while gamepads have their place, motion controllers have been at the forefront of interaction, and that’s where I see the focus going in the near future. Data gloves, eye-tracking, wireless headsets, haptic suits, software can do so much but it’s always confined by the hardware it’s on. Greater hardware improvements only encourage more imaginative software which can only make VR even more attractive.”

Oculus Touch

Salomons wraps up the discussion with a forward-looking statement. What will the future hold for VR, and the Oculus Rift in particular? For that, we have to look at the growing influence parent company Facebook, Inc. has over the Oculus VR and its products.

“Mark Zuckerberg has to be praised for wanting to help create a better VR space by not only supporting and developing videogames that are of extremely high quality, but experiences that also focus on social interaction. As a consumer of gaming, film and VR – I definitely feel like VR needs to grow in this area. Being able to share experiences is what life is about. The VR space is still small, and growing. As hardware, software and technology continues to improve in quality and becomes cheaper, we will hopefully see various videogame studios and companies grow on top of the framework that benchmark that Oculus has helped create to make VR more accessible to the general public.”

How do you feel the first year of consumer VR has performed? Has it lived-up to expectations? Is the struggle to find a killer app still hurting VR? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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