Parts shortages and privacy concerns trouble the Oculus Rift


— 7:57 AM on April 4, 2016

The first retail Oculus Rifts are in a few users' hands now, but only a few. Many customers in the first wave of Rift pre-orders have been left wondering when they will receive their headset, with nary an update from Oculus on the status of their orders. Two days ago, Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus, tweeted this:

Oculus made more details available to some pre-order customers in an e-mail that cited an "unexpected components shortage" as the reason for the delay. The free shipping offer is an olive branch to soothe disgruntled customers who have been waiting over three and a half years for their headset. Oculus says it'll update the status of affected orders by April 12.

The VR vendor's troubles don't end there. When Facebook acquired Oculus, commentors across the web—including some right here on the Tech Report—expressed concerns over Facebook's willingness to harvest and sell customer data. Now that people have started to dig into the Rift's software, policies, and agreements, those concerns appear to have been validated.

As it happens, the Rift software (which, as we previously reported, can only be installed to the same drive as Windows) installs an always-on service with system-level privileges. This service is primarily for detecting when the Rift is in use, but the privacy policy you must accept in exchange is extremely permissive. Oculus is allowed to collect data not only about your usage of the head-mounted display and its software—including your movements in physical space—but also about your device's specifications, as well as "the games, content, or other apps installed on your device."

Users of the Rift also give Oculus the right to use any content created using the Rift or its software indefinitely, free of charge. The agreement further allows the company to grant third parties access to all of the information that the software collects. Oculus' policy makes no attempt to hide the fact that, alongside the usual "usability improvement" rationale, the data harvested from Rift users will also be used for advertising and marketing purposes, both by Oculus and "related companies," a list of which can be found here.

   
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