Sunday, June 16, 2024

The creator of the Oculus Rift is working on a mysterious new VR headset

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Oculus RiftBill Roberson / Digital Trends

If you don’t recognize the name Oculus, it’s the company that kicked off the modern VR era. Facebook (now Meta) was so impressed by the Oculus Rift developer kit and sudden revival of interest in VR that it acquired the company in 2014. Now Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is back with plans for another VR headset.

While Luckey shared no specific details or even the name of the device, the announcement will no doubt create a buzz in the industry. The X (formerly Twitter) post came as a reply to VR analyst Brad Lynch’s reaction to Luckey’s X post about the ModRetro Chromatic, an upgraded reinterpretation of the wildly popular GameBoy Color handheld console.

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Luckey disputed the suggestion that he’d lost interest in developing a VR headset by breaking the news of the impending announcement at Augmented World Expo (AWE) that he was working on a new head-mounted display (HMD).

I am going to be announcing the fact that I am working on a new HMD at AWE!

— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) June 3, 2024

The Oculus founder hasn’t always agreed with Meta’s approach to VR. The two parted ways in 2017 for a variety of reasons. Luckey’s 2018 blog post “Free isn’t cheap enough” didn’t specifically mention Oculus, but suggested low-cost headsets weren’t the best way to advance virtual reality.

In 2019, Meta’s first Quest VR headset launched for $300 and saw moderate sales, failing to break through to mainstream gamers. The 2020 Quest 2 brought significant upgrades and kept the enticing $300 price tag. While it’s still the world’s most popular and one of the best VR headsets to start with, sales were still surprisingly low.

Luckey’s prediction that low-cost headsets wouldn’t inspire ongoing use proved to be correct and Meta has yet to launch another budget model. The popular Quest 3 starts at $500 and features a much more compelling mixed-reality experience and higher-resolution displays, along with greater comfort.

Perhaps Luckey had a better understanding of what the public wanted from VR in the early days. It remains to be seen whether the Oculus founder can succeed in today’s marketplace with competition coming from the ultra-premium Apple Vision Pro, the affordable Meta’s Quest 3, Sony’s console-supported PSVR2, and the midrange HTC Vive XR Elite, none of which existed when Luckey was developing the Rift VR headset.

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