Oculus, a company Facebook Inc bought for $2 billion last year, said on Thursday it planned to launch its virtual reality headset Rift early next year in a tie-up with Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console.
The Oculus Rift will work on Windows 10 and Microsoft will allow Xbox One games to stream to the headset as part of the virtual cinema experience Oculus has created, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said at a press conference on Thursday.
“We believe we’ll be able to create state of the art virtual reality experiences with the Oculus Rift on top of Windows," Spencer said.
The Rift will come with an Xbox One wireless controller and a standing camera to track the head and body movements of users.
While Oculus has declined to release the price of the headset, executives recently hinted it may cost around $1,500 when bundled with a PC, CNET reported.
“Consumers won't have to wait long for new games, however. The partnership with Microsoft will bring the entire catalog of Xbox One games, including the upcoming sci-fi shooter Halo 5: Guardians, to the Rift through streaming technology built into Windows 10, Microsoft's operating system upgrade due out July 29,” CNET reported.
While there are no estimates of the potential size of the market for virtual reality applications in the health care field, analysts say that success in this area would likely spur even broader adoption in a range of industries, such as education, fashion, media and telecommunications.
The potential size of those markets is quite large, possibly surpassing $5 billion over the next three years, according to some estimates, especially as the gadget's uses extend far beyond gaming.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he views virtual reality as the next major computing platform, and he is working hard to ensure that it is. While Oculus headsets will not be available to consumers until 2016, the company has made prototypes of the system available to developers since 2013, with the expectation that an array of applications will be available to those buying headsets after the formal launch.
Other companies, including Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and HTC Corp have either already released virtual reality headsets or plan to do so in the next year.
Oculus, however, has already distributed more than 100,000 units of its developer version. This is more than has been available in the history of virtual reality, giving it early brand recognition among medical researchers, analysts said.
Some headsets, such as Sony's Morpheus, are built exclusively for video games. Oculus, however, allows researchers and developers to create their own software, whether for specialised applications like health care or for video games.
With Reuters input from San Francisco