Virtual reality headsets have been a sci-fi staple for decades, but real-world versions never seem to measure up. Oculus is the latest gadget maker to take a stab at it: The company's Kickstarter to raise $250,000 for development brought in $2.4 million from more than 9,000 backers.
The Oculus Rift is the brainchild of Palmer Luckey, a former "Mixed Reality Lab" engineer at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies, where he focused on virtual reality and head-mounted displays.
"Developers have imagined virtual reality for many years, but the technology -- namely the hardware -- just wasn't ready," says Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe.
He thinks the Grail is finally in reach. Oculus says it's on track to have developer kits and prototypes shipped next month to its Kickstarter backers.
Does it work? A reviewer over at CNET called the experience of using a Rift prototype "more immersive, but also potentially more disconcerting" 2D gaming. Oculus says a consumer version is "a ways down the road," but it plans to keep experimenting.