June 11, 2015 / 5:51 PM / 2 years ago

Oculus debuts consumer version of VR headset, partners with Xbox

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe speaks during an event in San Francisco, California June 11, 2015. Virtual reality company Oculus held the news conference ahead of the release of its consumer version of its head-mounted display.Robert Galbraith

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oculus, the virtual reality company owned by Facebook Inc, debuted the much anticipated consumer version of its headset on Thursday and announced a partnership with Microsoft Corp's Xbox One gaming console.

A prototype of the Oculus Rift has been available to developers since 2013, but Thursday marked the first time anyone had seen the consumer version, which will be available for pre-order later this year and will start shipping in early 2016.

Oculus Chief Executive Brendan Iribe said during the unveiling in San Francisco that the Rift will include a wireless Xbox controller and adapter. Consumers will also be able to directly stream Xbox One games into the Rift, such as the popular game Halo, a first-person shooter game.

Facebook Inc bought Oculus last year for $2 billion and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has said he views virtual reality as the next major computing platform.

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey unexpectedly announced that the Rift will include wireless hand controllers that resemble bracelets to raucous applause.

The controllers will enable consumers to use their hands to interact with games, whether it's pulling a trigger on a virtual gun or using communicative gestures with other players.

"One of the first things people do is they reach out into this virtual world," Luckey said. "We wanted to create an input device that allows people to reach out."

At the start of the event, Iribe held the headset in one hand, pointing to its light weight and ability to adjust to any head size. The Rift will also fit over a pair of eyeglasses, he added, and includes adjustable headphones and lenses.

Iribe said the Rift is tightly integrated with Microsoft's Windows and hinted that "there is a lot more to come" with the computer company.

Several game developers showed demo videos of how their products will work in the Rift. Nate Mitchell, Oculus vice president of product, also announced "Oculus Home," a portal where games are bought and downloaded.

Iribe did not say how much the headset will cost. At a conference last month, he said he expects the Rift and the computer needed to run it will cost around $1,500.

Company executives said they plan to release more details about the Rift at next week's E3 video game conference in Los Angeles and at a developer conference in September.

Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Alan Crosby

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