What is Oculus Rift Used For?

what is oculus rift

Oculus Rift is a virtual reality (VR) technology manufactured by Oculus VR. It released in 2016 and discontinued three years later. But its legacy lives on. Without the original Oculus Rift, we would never have seen the Oculus Rift S or Meta’s standalone headsets. Let’s face it, we’ve come a long way since the launch of the original VR headset.

This article discusses important details about virtual reality. What is Oculus Rift and how is it used? We also cover how much it costs, how VR headsets work, and what the future holds for the virtual world.

Read on for more information on what is the Oculus Rift.

What’s An Oculus?

The Oculus VR is a head mounted device that allows users to interact with 3D virtual environments. Since its release in 2016, it became one of the most popular consumer virtual reality headsets. But what do you use an Oculus system for?

The purpose of virtual reality technologies is to provide users with interactive experiences created by computers. Virtual reality provides an intimate and natural way for people and computers to interact.

When you browse the Web or play games through traditional means, you interact with the real world. This type of play, for example, lacks immersion. But a virtual reality headset presents augmented reality. It personalizes your experience, providing a total visual immersion of virtual spaces. 

Internet users browse in two dimensions. Users must tap, swipe, or click a mouse to control the content and manipulate the experience. The same is true when you play board games. Players interact with game pieces in the real world. That kind of game doesn’t use a system (Oculus PC or Oculus Windows) to track your entire body. 

How Does the Oculus Rift Work?

You need to connect Oculus Rift to a PC with Microsoft Windows for it to function. You use a cable to connect the two together. With the help of a Rift headset that looks like a pair of goggles, you get transported into a VR world. Think space, underwater, or another virtual environment.

How does the system accomplish this? It uses a pair of OLED eye panels, or screens, that refresh at 90 Hz. The eye panels use low persistence, so they display an image for 2 milliseconds per frame. There are a set of lenses on top of the panels. They focus and reshape the picture and create a stereoscopic 3D image. Because of the fast refresh rate and the low persistence, users get a smooth presentation of images. 

It’s all about the goggles. That’s where the internal and external sensors are. The sensors monitor your head movements. Sensors include a 360-degree positional tracking and room tracking system. There are also eye tracking sensors that help adjust the image you see on the screen based on your movements. The headset’s positional tracking system, called Constellation, tracks the user’s head position through infrared tracking sensors.

Oculus touch controllers also have their own sensors. They help track your movement and translate it into the virtual world. And they do this with little to no lag. 

An image of a woman in a VR headset for our article on What is Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift Equipment

Much has changed since the original Rift launched its kickstarter campaign and introduced the first version of the system. Now, you find Rifts sold through Meta in the Oculus store. What was once the Oculus Quest is now Meta Quest. Oculus Quest 2 is now Meta Quest 2. The new products have a higher resolution display and many different accessories. 

In the store, you can buy:

  • Apps and games
  • AR glasses
  • Control box batteries
  • Developer kit
  • ID software
  • Integrated audio components
  • Oculus touch controllers (Meta)
  • Video output cables
  • VR headset

All accessories can work with gaming PC systems and components. 

How Much Does the Oculus Rift Cost?

When the first Oculus Rift launched it was $600. That price included a Rift headset, a single IR sensor, and an Xbox One controller. It also had a wireless PC adapter. Later, the price dropped to $400. The company bundled it with Oculus Touch controllers. If purchased separately, a pair of controllers ran about $200. 

Prices have increased today. But you get more bang for your buck. Pricing is as follows:

  • Meta Quest Pro: $999.99
  • Meta Quest 2 (128GB): $399.99
  • Meta Quest 2 (256GB): $429.99

With the Pro system, you get a headset, touch controllers, charging dock, and wrist straps. You also get a protective cover for your headset and partial light blockers. Charging cables and an adapter are also included. 

Health Risks and Motion Sickness

When the first Oculus Rift system launched, people experienced motion sickness. They still do with the new systems, but not as bad. Why? The system has improved over time. 

But there are health risks and warnings associated with Oculus VR, Oculus Home, or any system where users see virtual objects. Elderly, pregnant, or users with serious medical conditions should consult with a doctor before using VR. People should also exercise caution if they have:

  • Pre-existing heart conditions
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Vision abnormalities

About one out of 4,000 people experience dizziness or blackouts that can lead to severe seizures. This typically occurs in people under the age of 20 with histories of symptoms linked to epileptic conditions. Doctors advise children under the age of 13 not to use Oculus Home or VR. You should also avoid prolonged use. Prolonged use can impact balance and hand-eye coordination.

All bodies react differently to VR. Some users never get used to VR without feeling nauseated. Others get used to it right away. But most people can use virtual reality if they take regular breaks. Give yourself time to recover if you’re feeling out of touch, dizzy, or sick to your stomach. Drink a glass of water, get outside for some fresh air, and breathe. 

An image of a VR headset for our article on What is Oculus Rift

What Games Can You Play on the Oculus Rift?

The Rift supports two game engines. You can use it with Unity and Unreal Engine. With this access, you get many independent titles that you can’t find in stores. Most games you can find in the Oculus Rift store or Steam’s virtual reality section.

Fan-made mods and games also exist. Third-party programs allow users to play games not made for the Rift. Some third-party programs include:

  • TriDef
  • Vireio Perception
  • VorpX

Are There Non-Gaming Applications for Oculus Rift?

Many VR systems have come and gone, others have evolved. In 2020, we saw HTC Vive discontinue certain products and make room for newer versions of headsets. We also saw the changes the Rift made after the company sold to Meta. But once thing that has stayed the course of time is the excitement of leaving the real world for a short time and jumping into VR. 

It’s this excitement that has filmmakers experimenting with VR storytelling. Where they put the viewer in the shoes of a character and let them watch as the story unfolds from their point of view. You can also step into places and situations you’ve never been. Imagine visiting an exotic destination or landing on another planet. VR can make this happen. 

There are also VR apps that allow you to watch movies and television shows from home with the feeling that you’re in a movie theater. These apps give you the feel that you’re watching a movie on a big screen. It is the movie industry that has taken virtual reality and made the most of it for its viewers. While there’s more work to be done, VR has augmented reality. There’s no telling what the future holds. 

Other Uses for Virtual Reality

When people first learned what is Oculus Rift, they related it only to games. But VR has other uses besides gaming and entertainment. Professionals use it in business, education, healthcare, and training. There are over 20 industries that use virtual reality. Here are some current uses for VR that might surprise you. 

Automotive Industry

Before creating expensive prototypes, VR allows engineers to experiment with the look and design of a vehicle. Companies like BMW and Jaguar use VR to hold engineering reviews in advance of building a new design. They can hold onto these designs for years and revisit them later. VR saves the auto industry millions of dollars every year by reducing the number of prototypes built. 


In the healthcare and medical industries, VR is helpful. Professionals use it for training purposes. Surgeons use it to practice complicated operations. It’s also used for the treatment of mental health issues. Through exposure therapy, a doctor can use VR to help treat patients with anxiety and PTSD. 

Real Estate

There are real estate companies leading the way for potential buyers to explore houses online. No need for an agent. You just hop online and shop around through a virtual experience. No, you don’t see the property firsthand, but you can weed out properties online. You also save yourself time and effort when you first view the home online.


The tourism industry also uses VR so that users can experience guided tours. This has become a popular development in the post-Covid era. During the pandemic, users could purchase a virtual experience and visit world-famous landmarks. But after Covid, the tourism industry has capitalized on keeping these experiences alive. You can pre-visit hotspots anywhere in the world and experience them virtually before booking your next vacation. 

An image of a man using VR for our article on What is Oculus Rift

Pros and Cons of VR

Virtual reality has a number of advantages in entertainment and education. But there are also disadvantages. Below we discuss both the pros and cons of VR. 

VR Advantages

Immersive Experience

Thanks to more accessible devices, VR can reach a wide audience. The immersive experience you get in virtual reality helps users feel as though they are present in the environment they see. This experience is helpful during training exercises. It is also helpful in cases where the environment is dangerous or unsafe. Law enforcement and FBI training, as well as other forms of training benefit from VR.

Increased Productivity

Some argue that VR increases productivity. How? It can help with communication and training. VR can help people learn new skills by giving them a realistic environment to practice in. VR can also help people communicate by creating a space as if they were in the same room. 

Medical Therapy

The first VR clinic opened in 2005. Since then research has continued. But preliminary findings show medical doctors using VR to treat patients with:

  • Depression
  • Pain management
  • PTSD
  • Specific phobias

VR Disadvantages

Health Risks

There are several health risks associated with prolonged VR use. One of the most common is that headsets can cause eye strain and other problems. Eye fatigue is a real concern with VR users. Over time, users have trouble focusing their eyes and develop vision problems. 

Another health risk related to VR use is nausea. Some users report feelings of stomach upset and nausea. When you play in a virtual world, it can be difficult for your brain to differentiate between what is real and what is not. This can lead to motion sickness. 

Body injuries can also occur during VR play. Some users have suffered injuries during their time in a VR headset. This can happen when a person stumbles or falls while wearing a headset. Others have run into walls or hit objects within their range of motion. 

Other health risks related to VR include:

  • Addiction
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

High Equipment Costs

VR equipment is expensive. Some systems cost close to $1,000, or more. The high price tag excludes many users from experiencing virtual reality. Some VR systems demand certain computers. Not all users have these systems, and this also prevents them from using VR. Not all users can afford to upgrade their computers and buy costly apps and add-ons that make their system compatible for VR. 

Social Isolation

One of the largest disadvantages of VR is social isolation. Some argue that when people use VR headsets they become so immersed that they block out those around them. They can lose touch with reality. 

Another disadvantage related to social isolation is that VR is addictive. The more you play it, the more you will want to play it. Some users find they prefer spending more time in virtual worlds than in reality. This can also lead to social isolation and problems with anxiety and depression. 

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This concludes our article on what is a Oculus Rift and how is it used.