Virtual Reality open for pre-orders: Oculus Rift

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Pictured is the Oculus "Crescent Bay" prototype headset.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Oculus, the makers of a much-anticipated virtual reality headset called the Rift, will open up the digital doors for pre-orders on Wednesday.

The company, which Facebook acquired in 2014, isn’t saying when buyers will actually receive the Rift. But founder Palmer Luckey said in a tweet that “shipping starts in Q1!”

The first quarter of 2016 has been the company’s promised target for many months.

The project has faced hurdle after hurdle. Last week Oculus delayed the release of another piece of the VR system, a pair of controllers called Touch that place people’s hands into virtual environments.

“On the path to perfecting Touch, we’ve decided that we need more time before release, and we’ll now be shipping Touch in the second half of 2016,” the company said in a New Year’s Eve blog post. “Pre-orders will open a few months prior to launch.”

As for the Rift, the pre-orders will begin at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday. “We’ll be sharing everything you need to know to order your Rift on Wednesday when pre-orders go live,” the company said.

No price tag was announced on Monday. But analysts expect the headset plus the necessary high-powered PC hardware to cost about $1,500.

Luckey has grand ambitions for Oculus and for the whole VR industry. (There are a growing number of competing headsets, but the Rift has stirred enormous interest due to its high quality and its Facebook ties.) He expects virtual games, movies, news coverage, and even face-to-face communication to be common someday.

“We are going to make this happen,” he said in an interview at Facebook headquarters last fall.

Luckey described medical applications that would help surgical students see inside patients and virtual field trips that would “take people to the moon.”

But he added, “Nobody knows what the killer application of VR is going to be yet.” First it has to ship — so people can experience it for themselves.

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