Virtual reality has the power to make you feel like you’re in another world. It also has the power to leave some really gnarly chafe marks around your face and eyes if you wear a headset too long.
Creating a comfortable product is one of the issues that holds back a consumer version of the Rift headset from Oculus VR, according to the company’s chief executive officer Brendan Iribe. In an interview with financial news cable network Bloomberg, Iribe explained that company is close to releasing its first product for consumers, but his team is really focused on making sure that the experience is pleasant for those who use it.
“To get [comfort] right is really a big challenge,” said Iribe. “We’re just at the point now where we’re confident that we’re there, and it’ll be not too far [from now].”
Last month, the virtual-reality company held its first Oculus Connect Developers Conference. That is where Iribe and his team introduced the latest prototype hardware, Crescent Bay. This version of the Rift device introduces integrated audio as well as full positional tracking, which means that a camera can tell where you are sitting even if you have your back turned to it.
Iribe acknowledged again that consumer Rift will have a lot in common with Crescent Bay. But he reiterated that the designers still feel like they have a lot of work ahead of them.
“Well, [the wait is] less than multiple years,” said Iribe. “We can’t say where we are on it, but more than a few months and less than a few years, but it’s pretty soon. We do want to get it right.”
In March, social-networking giant Facebook acquired Oculus Rift for $2 billion. With plenty of money behind it now, the virtual-reality pioneers can afford to take their time.
To “get it right,” as Iribe puts it, will require Oculus to think about the Rift as a product from every possible angle. It means ensuring a product that is comfortable to wear, as Iribe touched on, but it also means making sure that consumers find it easy to use. Another big aspect of launching the Rift is compatible software. That’s what Oculus Connect was all about — getting developers making content now so that it is ready and waiting for day-one adopters.