Oculus shows off a smaller, lighter virtual reality headset for consumers

Oculus unveils a slightly smaller, lighter consumer headset

Facebook-owned Oculus VR showed off the long-awaited consumer version of its virtual reality headset Thursday, announcing features such as built-in 360-degree audio headphones, a constellation tracking system, an external sensor and a dial that adjusts the distance of the headset's lenses.

Set to launch in the first quarter of 2016, the yet-to-be-priced consumer version will be lighter and slightly smaller than the scuba mask-like developer kits that have been available to early adopters since late 2012.

Demonstrating the headset at a news conference in San Francisco, Oculus VR Chief Executive Brendan Iribe said the consumer headset will accommodate people who wear glasses, and the built-in headphones will be detachable for those who want to use their own headphones.

The headset will ship a wireless Xbox One controller, and an external sensor that tracks the user’s head. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey announced that the company is working on its own tracking controller that users can hold in each hand.

Oculus VR is the first of the high-end virtual reality headset makers to set a release window for its consumer version. The company began as a start-up that raised almost $2.5 million from more than 9,000 people to build the Oculus Rift.

Facebook acquired the Irvine company in 2014 for $2 billion, boosting its resources and relocating its headquarters to Menlo Park.

Twitter: @traceylien

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