Since then, that awkward contraption—now more streamlined, and known as the Oculus Rift—has become the most anticipated new product in gaming since the Nintendo Wii got people off the couch. It’s a head-mounted display that promises to be a gigantic step toward what many had dismissed as an unrealizable dream: virtual reality.
The Rift is the brainchild of a 19-year-old tinkerer and VR enthusiast named Palmer Luckey. A collector of old VR headsets, Luckey was all too familiar with the shortcomings every system had faced—small fields of vision, unwieldy form factors, horrific resolution. He was also uniquely suited to do something about it: Years of modding videogame consoles and refurbishing iPhones for fun and profit had given him enough fine-soldering skills to start Frankensteining pieces from his existing headset collection. Eventually, chronicling his efforts on a message board devoted to 3D gaming, he figured out a way to cobble together a headset with a field of vision that dwarfed anything else on the market and allowed people to become completely immersed in a 360-degree playspace.