Lead­ing the VR revo­lu­tion

OCU­LUS

Stuff Singapore - - INNOVATORS -

PALMER LUCKEY

When most teenagers lock them­selves away in their par­ents’ garage, they’re nor­mally guz­zling il­licit booze and fags, not work­ing on the pro­to­type of a de­vice that’ll even­tu­ally con­vince Mark Zucker­berg to part with US$2 bil­lion. But Palmer Luckey wasn’t like most teenagers, ex­per­i­ment­ing with Tesla coils and lasers in his spare time. Now 22, he’s founder of Ocu­lus and in­ven­tor of the Rift, mak­ing him almost sin­gle-hand­edly re­spon­si­ble for the resur­gence of vir­tual re­al­ity.

Since the Rift was un­veiled in 2012 we’ve seen head­sets from PlaySta­tion, Sam­sung, LG and a whole raft of start-ups, but Luckey wel­comes the com­pe­ti­tion: “It lets peo­ple know that VR isn’t just this thing that one crazy company be­lieves in,” he told Stuff at this year’s E3 gaming show. “It’s some­thing that a lot of com­pa­nies, even re­ally big ones, be­lieve in.”

That in­cludes Face­book, Ocu­lus’ new owner. And while some of the company’s early back­ers felt be­trayed by this ‘sell­ing out’ it’s only thanks to the deal that Ocu­lus will be able to sell the Rift at cost price when it even­tu­ally goes on gen­eral sale. It’ll also be smaller and lighter than the DK2, with a wider field of view, higher frame rate and more pix­els crammed into the dis­play.

This is only the be­gin­ning. Luckey sees a fu­ture beyond gaming for vir­tual re­al­ity: “I think that VR has the ca­pa­bil­ity to re­place almost all the screens we use on a daily ba­sis. Let’s go way into the fu­ture and imag­ine it’s built into some­thing that just looks like a nor­mal pair of glasses. Why would you have a phone in­stead of that?” Why in­deed, Mr Luckey.

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