All of a sudden today, Oculus Rift owners worldwide found that their virtual reality headset simply wouldn’t work due to a small, hard-to-pin-down error.
“Can’t reach Oculus runtime service” is the message that popped up today for everyone trying to make use of their headset. Polygon, who originally reported the story, mentioned that several of their own devices were knocked out of commission. For their part, Oculus’ FAQ suggests restarting the software and restarting the hardware, neither of which seemed to do much good.
The Oculus forums filled up with people complaining about the issue, with several digging into the Oculus files to see if there was anything indicating why a global glitch would occur. Sure enough, users have found and subsequently hypothesized a security certificate for the software expired today and was seemingly not renewed. Software uses security certificates to validate integrity with websites in order to prevent fraud or malicious use.
Oculus has tweeted an acknowledgement of the issue, stating “We’re aware of an issue impacting people’s ability to use Rift’s software, and we’re working to fix the problem. Please visit http://ocul.us/RiftRuntime for the latest—thanks for your patience!”
While this is likely a temporary problem that Oculus will have to resolve sooner rather than later, it does show how precarious a lot of the technology we use can be. If this is a problem with an expired certificate, then a small mistake shut down a ton of headsets, and that definitely is something to watch out for in a lot more than just this one case.