How Oculus cracked the impossible design of VR (Wired)
This story, written by Peter Ruben, first appeared on Wired.com on 3/27/2016. You can read the original post here.
PALMER LUCKEY HAS never used an Oculus Rift.
That’s what the founder of Oculus keeps telling himself as he unboxes the commercial version of the virtual reality system he invented. Opens the package. Takes out the few elements—the headset, the single cable that connects it to a computer, the small cylindrical infrared camera that tracks it in space. Runs through the setup. And finally puts on the headset and takes stock of his surroundings.
Luckey has been doing this same thing over and over and over again, on different computers in different rooms on Facebook’s campus. He’s spent days repeating the sequence, putting himself in the shoes of a customer who has just received a Rift.
That customer could be anyone. Maybe it’s one of the hundreds of thousands of people who bought a developer-only iteration—the Kickstarted version in 2012 or maybe the more refined one that followed two years later. Maybe it’s someone who has spent the last few years with their nose pressed against the digital glass, following every wrinkle of the Rift’s progress on Reddit or podcasts or YouTube or in WIRED or even Oculus’ own lengthy, surprisingly transparent blog posts. Maybe it’s someone who experienced VR only recently, at SXSW or Sundance, and felt in their very marrow that the world was about to change.
Really, though, it doesn’t matter. After nearly four years of work, Luckey and his colleagues are about to share their long-gestating dream with the world. The Oculus Rift arrives tomorrow, and anyone who finds one on their doorstep must have an absolutely seamless experience. With all the momentum that VR has right now—the millions of people who are aware of it, the billions of dollars poured into it—Luckey would hate to see it stall because of something as pedestrian as a long wait for a driver update. So he opens a box, and he sets up a headset, and then he does it all over again. Because Palmer Luckey has never used an Oculus Rift.