Leading the VR revolution
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.