When the Oculus Rift arrives, sometime in early 2016, it will cost early adopters something on the order of $1,500 for the headset and computer to run it. It will offer access to immersive environments, but without complete immersion. Sure, the Rift will get your eyes and ears into virtual reality, but what would cost to incept all your senses to convince into VR? Well, a lot. But can you really put a price on access to the metaverse?

Let’s break down the costs one sense at a time. Sight, it turns out, is the easy bit.


The Rift is aiming for your eyes with a whole lotta pixels, as engineer Atman Binstock describes in an Oculus blogpost: “the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift’s rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second.” Is that close enough for virtual photorealism? Oculus argues that photorealism isn’t needed to trick your brain into a sense of presence.

Cost: $1,500


In early November, audio tech titan Sennheiser unveiled an update to its highest end headphones, Orpheus. The company says these headphones boast 0.01 percent harmonic distortion and frequency ranges from 8 Hz to over 100 kHz — which is great news if you are actually also a porpoise, as human hearing fizzles out at about the 20 kHz range.

Cost: $55,000


A device called FeelReal is a mask that you wear over your face while you’re in a virtual reality. It can mist on you and blow hot air, and also offers scent. Currently, the “odor generator” is limited to seven smells (including “jungle” and “fire” but not, surprisingly, vanilla) and went for a minimum of $250 on an unsuccessful Kickstarter. The Feelreal might have some kinks to work out — it’s been compared to a torture device — and could consider expanding its scent repertoire. In a study that found humans detect 1 trillion unique smells, neurobiologists used 128 odor molecules. Increase the FeelReal’s price by a factor of 18 (128 divided by seven), and maybe it would be less tortuous and more aromatic.

Cost: $4,500


Food, and the digestive sensations associated with it, is a tough simulated cookie. 3D food printers exist, which you can buy for about $5,000 to $10,000. But most of what they spit up are either gastronomic experiment or variations on theme of gel-concoction. Natural Machine’s Foodini prototype touts pizzas and pumpkin gnocchis, but it’s not totally automated. Frankly, for a more realistic experience, your simulated food-purchasing actions in the metaverse would have to trigger some sort of signal to a chef, or at least to an intern who will run into the room and pop a Mountain Dew in your hand once you’ve used a simulated vending machine. The average annual salary for a chef is $75,000; the average American spent $6,600 on food in 2013.

Cost: $81,600


Prototype designs like the Tesla Suit combine mo-cap with haptics. The Tesla Suit claims it can mimic the feelings fan breezes and shotgun blasts, thanks to thousands of electrical stimulators embedded in the fabric. It is machine-washable, maybe in case you like your VR of the Lawnmower Man variety (Tesla Suit didn’t respond immediately for comment from Inverse). The company — no relation to Elon Musk’s — has also kept mum on a potential price point. Salto, a suit with 19 sensors, costs $700; assuming that the price per sensor is fixed, and you a high-end thousand-sensor suit might be on the order of five figures.

But it’s not as simple as all that because touch also transpires within environments. Fine-tuned environmental control over a room is doable — just head to your nearest university’s biology department — but not cheap. Environmental Growth Chambers offers chambers adjustable from -40 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, with 10 percent to 95 percent humidity. The rooms max out at 2,500 square feet, so keep that in mind when you’re developing your CableRobot simulator. EGC doesn’t list prices on its website, but you can buy used environmental test chambers on eBay for about a quarter of a million. We’ll take ours new.

Estimated Cost: $540,000


Omnidirectional treadmills aim to solve the movement problem of VR.The ones you can buy, such as the Virtuix Omni, cost several hundred dollars and have strangely low friction coefficients. There are several more development, like the Infinadeck, which don’t require slippery shoes. Still a work in progress — the Infinadeck maxes out at 6 mph, and runs at 70 dB (if you have the Sennheiser Orpheus on you won’t hear the ambient noise).

To increase the sense of motion and acceleration, you could stick something like the Infinadeck on something like the Max Planck Institute’s CableRobot simulator. The system uses eight cables to accelerate a platform with up to 1.5 times that of gravity. It took two years and team of European cybernetics experts to create, so the proof-of-concept device would not come cheap. Nor would bolting a treadmill on top.

Cost: The Infinadeck plus CableRobot simulator doesn’t exist yet, but two years of work from a robotics professor, plus parts and labor, might set you back about $220,000.

Total (Estimated) Price Tag: $902,600

Photos via Max Planck Institute, Flickr.com/Super Suz

SpaceX is gearing up to send humans into space for the first time. On Monday, CEO Elon Musk confirmed a report that claimed NASA estimates the firm will be ready for people-carrying space adventures as early as April of next year. While a good sign for the company’s Mars mission, a successful human test flight would also enable a new method of sending people to the International Space Station.

Not all who wander are lost, but that might be the case for a newly discovered rogue planet. Scientists have found evidence of a giant planetary mass outside our solar system that appears to be traveling without any sort of set orbit or parent star.

This bumbling fool of a planet was first discovered by astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). From the radio astronomy observatory, scientists were able to pick up its magnetic activity and study it, the findings of which were made public on Thursday. It’s the first time the observatory’s radio-telescope detection was able to pick up a planetary-mass object beyond our solar system.

Ever seen a meteoroid hit the moon? Almost definitely not in person, but have you ever seen video of such space phenomena? If you haven’t, thanks to something called the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, now you can.

The system, also known as MIDAS, captured the moments when two rogue meteoroids hit the moon’s surface on July 17 and 18. That’s right; this happened twice over two different days, with the meteoroids striking two different locations on the lunar surface.

The Perseid meteor shower is back, space enthusiasts. The Perseids peak during mid-August. NASA calls this meteor shower the best one of the year, so you’re definitely not going to want to miss this celestial event.

Although NASA reports that the Perseids are active between July 14 and August 24, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com on Thursday that the shower’s peak will be most visible the nights of August 11 and August 12, with the second night possibly offering better viewing. He added: “The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it.”

Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy some fresh seafood by the water — unless you let an old seafood rule spoil your fun. While you’re slurping your oyster shooters, you may recall a little bit of wisdom that someone (maybe your mom?) once told you: Only eat oysters during months that have an “R” in them. You may have even heard a variation of this rule that includes all seafood, not just oysters. And if you’re sweating those crab rolls you recently scarfed down — especially if you just read about the vibriosis outbreak linked to crab meat — don’t worry: When it comes to figuring out whether you’re safe eating seafood, Inverse has you covered.