How a teenager created Oculus Rift in his parents’ SoCal garage, sold it for $2 billion and may have launched a digital revolution
For decades, virtual reality has failed to deliver on its great promise. But on March 28th, Oculus Rift, a breakthrough VR system, debuted – finally heralding the arrival of a technology seemingly pulled from a sci-fi future. On a recent spring morning, in a soundproof studio on the San Mateo, California, campus of Facebook – just days before the $600 Rift’s release – I’m testing out the Oculus headset in a mountain-climbing simulation created by Crytek, a team of artists and coders that has spent the past year meticulously scanning and re-creating vistas from the Alps to Halong Bay, Vietnam. The experience, which teleports me to a jagged cliff in a virtual world spanning 50 square miles, is so realistic that I can barely look down – when I do, my knees buckle and my palms sweat. Finally, my brain has to interrupt: Dude, you’re not really here.