10 Years on Palmer Luckey Still Isn’t Finished With VR

If there’s one person to thank for the current virtual reality (VR) industry it’s Oculus founder Palmer Luckey – not Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Last week Luckey marked what would have been Oculus’ 10th anniversary with the first in a series of new blog posts looking at the company’s history, his role, and most surprisingly; teasing mention of new VR tech he’s been keeping under wraps.

An Oculus Rift DK1.

So a quick history lesson if you’re not aware. Luckey founded Oculus in 2012 at the age of 19, turning a niche hobby into something far bigger. After bringing on board the likes of John Carmack (Doom co-creator) and running a successful Kickstarter, Facebook stepped in and bought the startup for $2 billion USD in 2015. However, it wasn’t plain sailing thanks to a number of issues including a Zenimax lawsuit and Luckey’s own actions on Reddit. This led to him leaving the company in 2017, just shy of the five-year mark.

Five years on from that event and now CEO of military drone manufacturer Anduril, it seems the VR evangelist isn’t done with the technology. “This year is also the right time to finally unveil some VR technologies I haven’t been able to talk about for a variety of reasons,” said Luckey on his blog.

What these could be are anyone’s guess at the moment, Luckey plans on releasing further details during the course of the coming year. As he’s not “been able to talk” about whatever these technologies are suggests he’s been under NDA for a while, could they be due to military contracts or could they be more mainstream focused?

Palmer Luckey Time Cover
Image credit: Time.

Expect to hear a few Oculus home truths and some angry venting from Luckey, hopefully providing a few juicy morsels regarding Oculus’ inner workings. “I have quite a bit to share, especially regarding portions of Oculus history that have been subject to extensive revisionism in public accounts.”

In 2022 the Oculus brand is slowly sunsetting as Meta’s rebranding continues down its metaverse path. Oculus Quest 2 is now Meta Quest 2, with packaging and online branding all now brandishing the new logo. The name hasn’t disappeared completely though, Oculus.com still exists, and App Lab is still referred to as Oculus App Lab.

This year is also set to welcome new headsets like Meta’s Project Cambria, reportedly packed full of sensors for more immersive interactions. As and when Palmer Luckey divulges these VR technologies, gmw3 will let you know.

Oculus Rift 2 wurde kurz vor der Produktion gestrichen

Tower Tag Lockdown Sale 3

Wie Palmer Luckey, Gründer und ehemaliger Angestellter von Oculus, via Twitter mitteilt, hatte Oculus wohl eine Oculus Rift 2 in Planung, doch diese nicht in Produktion gegeben, um die Rift S auf den Markt zu bringen und eine Produktion von Lenovo durchführen lassen zu können.

Oculus Rift 2 wurde kurz vor der Produktion gestrichen

Luckey behauptete dies gestern in einem Tweet und reagierte damit auf einen Bericht von UploadVR, dass Facebook die Lagerbestände für die Oculus Rift S nicht wieder auffüllen würde. Palmer schrieb in seinem Tweet, dass er sich eine Welt vorstelle, in der die Rift 2 nicht kurz vor der Produktion abgesagt und durch die Rift S ersetzt wurden wäre.

Ob dies eine Welt mit besseren VR-Inhalten wäre, ist jedoch fraglich. Durch den niedrigen Preis der Rift S konnten Oculus und Facebook immerhin eine breitere Zielgruppe ansprechen und somit auch ggf. mehr Entwickler und Entwicklerinnen von der Entwicklung von VR-Spielen überzeugen.

Zukünftig scheint sich Oculus auch komplett auf die Oculus Quest und dessen Nachfolgerinnen zu konzentrieren, denn die Rift S wird nicht mehr produziert und die Quest ist aktuell der größte Erfolg, den Oculus bisher feiern konnte. Unseren Test zur Oculus Quest 2 findet ihr hier.

Der Beitrag Oculus Rift 2 wurde kurz vor der Produktion gestrichen zuerst gesehen auf VR∙Nerds. VR·Nerds am Werk!

Facebook Canceled Oculus Rift 2 Just Before Production – Palmer Luckey

An official Oculus Rift 2 headset was cancelled shortly before it went into production, says Oculus founder and Rift inventor, Palmer Luckey.

Luckey claimed as much in a tweet yesterday, responding to UploadVR’s report that Facebook would not be replenishing stock for the Oculus Rift S. The engineer, who departed Facebook in 2017, said he was “Imagining a world where Rift 2 was not cancelled shortly before going into production and then cancelled again in favor of a much lower spec Lenovo rebadge.”

Oculus Rift 2 Cancelled In Favor Of Rift S

Luckey’s tweet matches up with a TechCrunch report from 2018 that claimed Facebook had cancelled a full Rift 2 headset, codenamed Caspar, which lead to the departure of former Oculus CEO, Brendan Iribe. The following year, a new book from Blake Harris made mention of two other potential Rift follow-ups, Tuzi and Venice, that never made it off the ground.

The “lower spec” headset Luckey is referring to is the Rift S, which was seen as more of a small upgrade to the first Rift when it launched alongside the original Oculus Quest in 2019 with a bump in screen resolution and a switch to inside-out tracking. A full-bodied Rift 2 would have likely included more significant technical upgrades and perhaps new features. Ahead of Rift S’s launch, Facebook’s Jason Rubin himself said that a full Rift 2 would “need to include radical new tech.”

We now know, however, that that will never happen. At Facebook Connect last year the company announced the Oculus Quest 2 and, in the process, confirmed it would be winding down sales of the Rift S, which it confirmed would be its last PC-only VR headset.

It’s becoming increasingly clear why Facebook made this move. Last week we reported that the Quest 2, having been on sale for around five months now, has already outsold every other Oculus headset — the Rift, Rift S, Go and Quest — combined.

What do you think of Oculus Rift 2 being cancelled? Let us know in the comments below!

Following Investment, SideQuest Announces Developer Promotion Program & More

After taking $650k in early investment last week, SideQuest detailed its plans for growth and its developer promotion program in a new Reddit post.

Just two people, Shane Harris and Orla Harris, have made up the entire SideQuest team so far, but that’s about to change. Shane and Orla have “hand picked some of the top talent from [the SideQuest] community” to join them, in order to meet the next phase of the platform’s expansion plans, which focuses on helping Quest developers.

SideQuest also announced a new promotion platform, now out of beta, which allows developers with content on SideQuest to promote that content within the sideloading app itself, using elements like featured banners or promoted app listings. You can find more info here.

There will also be a new developer-focused SideQuest Discord server, launching soon, so as not to interfere with the main server. You can sign up for more info via the developer mailing list. The main SideQuest server will also receive a layout update in the near future.

Plus, to celebrate all the good news and updates, SideQuest is giving away a Quest 2! The competition will run for one week on the SideQuest Discord, and the headset will be sent out after SideQuest receive their pre-order sometime after October 13. We’re also currently running a Quest 2 giveaway as well in partnership with UNIVRS, developers of Little Witch Academia VR.

All of these plans continue to push SideQuest forward as a platform that offers distinct features and services that are not available on the Oculus Store. Last week’s investment from BoostVC, The Fund, and Palmer Luckey will help SideQuest pivot towards more developer-focused features, such as offering a testing service for their experiences.

If you’re new to sideloading and want to know how it works, check out our how to guide for using SideQuest on Oculus Quest.

Unofficial Quest App Store ‘SideQuest’ Raises $650,000 From Oculus Founder & Others

SideQuest is an unofficial app store for Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset which offers an avenue for developers to distribute apps without being subject to Oculus’ approval process. The team behind the project has raised $650,000 in seed investment, including funding from departed Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.

Despite being pushed out of Facebook in 2017 and moving into the defense sector, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has continued to keep a close eye on the VR space and support projects that align with his vision for VR.

TechCrunch today reported that Luckey was among several investors that participated in a $650,000 seed investment in SideQuest. The bulk of the investment ($500,000) comes from BoostVC, a startup accelerator program, while the rest was split between Luckey and VC firm The Fund.

The appeal of SideQuest is that it sidesteps the official Oculus Store which, on Quest, imposes a quality or scope bar on apps. That means smaller or less polished projects are unlikely to be approved on the store.

“No HMD manufacturer should have a stranglehold on the VR ecosystem or unilateral control over what people run on their VR headsets, and when I look at Sidequest, I see the spirit of Oculus Share,” Luckey told TechCrunch.

Oculus Share was the company’s proto-app store which hosted VR apps regardless of quality or scope. Oculus continued the approach of allowing any app onto its VR app store (so long as it met technical requirements) up until Quest, at which point the company pivoted to a curated approval process for the headset.

SEE ALSO
How (and why) to Sideload Games on Quest with SideQuest

SideQuest is basically an unofficial app-store built atop Quest’s ‘side-loading’ capability, which allows developers to manually load applications onto the headset. That poses a significant risk to the project and its investors. At any point Facebook could declare that side-loading is intended only for developers and move to lock the door with a more complicated side-loading procedure.

But it may be too late. With hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors to SideQuest and hundreds of hosted apps, according to TechCrunch, and now with a seed investment, significantly hampering SideQuest might be too risky for Facebook’s developer relations.

In fact, Facebook may ultimately end up solidifying SideQuest as the official, unofficial app store for Quest. The company announced last week that it plans to begin allowing apps onto its store infrastructure, even before approval, with the caveat that unapproved apps won’t be listed in the official store and it will be up to developers to distribute by themselves. SideQuest creator Shane Harris told UploadVR that his platform will serve as a distribution hub for those unlisted apps.

For Luckey’s part, the investment in SideQuest is not the first time he’s supported projects that directly challenge Facebook’s grip on the VR app ecosystem. In 2017 he began supporting Revive—an unofficial mod which allows Oculus Store content to be played on non-Oculus headsets—with $2,000 in monthly funding through its Patreon campaign.

The post Unofficial Quest App Store ‘SideQuest’ Raises $650,000 From Oculus Founder & Others appeared first on Road to VR.

SideQuest Takes Investment From BoostVC And Palmer Luckey

Sideloading platform SideQuest is taking $650K in early investment from BoostVC, Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey, and The Fund.

The relatively small “pre-seed” funding will help SideQuest’s Shane Harris and Orla Harris build a testing service and other tools for virtual reality developers.

“I am investing in SideQuest because I believe in their vision for VR development and distribution,” Luckey said in a prepared statement. “No HMD manufacturer should have a stranglehold on the VR ecosystem or unilateral control over what people run on their VR headsets, and when I look at Sidequest, I see the spirit of Oculus Share.”

A startup called Fishbowl VR was used by some developers as a testing service during the 2016 wave of interest in consumer VR. That startup, however, didn’t survive as the market transitioned toward Oculus Quest. SideQuest, meanwhile, sprang up after developer Shane Harris realized in 2019 there was need for an easy to use tool for uploading or downloading content from Facebook’s otherwise highly curated Oculus Quest standalone.

Since its release, lots of Quest owners have turned to SideQuest to find cutting edge experimental content while developers use it as an early access distribution system for testing and feedback. It sounds like the founders plan to lean into user testing with SideQuest’s next steps. The idea looks like something a little like TestFlight and a little like Fishbowl.

“The platforms own the stores,” Shane Harris explained in a video call. “They win that race every time.”

Instead of competing as a sort of alternative store, though, over the long term he sees marketing and playtesting being two areas where SideQuest is particularly well-suited to help developers.

“We’re not interested in competing with Oculus or the other platform holders as the space emerges,” Harris said.

Facebook, meanwhile, started rolling out its now Oculus Developer Hub designed to make it easier and faster to iterate development and manage content on a Quest. Facebook is in the midst of an enormous transition as it requires all new headset owners use their Facebook account, and early next year the company will add an out-of-store distribution system for software developers on Oculus Quest.

Palmer Luckey ‘Really Believed’ Oculus Wouldn’t Ever Require Facebook Sign-In

Oculus founder and Rift inventor Palmer Luckey says he “really believed” Oculus headsets would never need a Facebook sign-in to operate, based on promises made during his time at the company.

Yesterday, Facebook announced that, from October, first-time sign-ins to Oculus headsets would require a Facebook account. Pre-existing Oculus accounts will continue to function as normal until 2023, when Facebook will end support and users will lose unspecified features. When Facebook first bought Oculus in 2014, Oculus executives — including Luckey — gave multiple assurances that users would not need a Facebook account to use their headset.

Following yesterday’s news, Luckey took to Reddit, claiming that he “really believed” Facebook wouldn’t enforce such a requirement and that the company promised him as much on multiple occasions. “I want to make clear that those promises were approved by Facebook in that moment and on an ongoing basis,” Luckey said, “and I really believed it would continue to be the case for a variety of reasons. In hindsight, the downvotes from people with more real-world experience than me were definitely justified.”

He didn’t, however, reveal his own personal take on today’s news.

Luckey departed Facebook in 2017 following reports he donated $10,000 to Nimble America, a pro-Trump group, for a billboard featuring a caricature of Hillary Clinton captioned ‘Too Big To Jail’. That leaves a big gap between when Facebook apparently made these promises to him and when the company reversed that decision. In fact, the last remaining Oculus founder, Nate Mitchell, left Facebook a year ago. Luckey now heads up a defense product company, Anduril Industries.

What do you make of Luckey’s comments? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The post Palmer Luckey ‘Really Believed’ Oculus Wouldn’t Ever Require Facebook Sign-In appeared first on UploadVR.

Oculus Founder’s Defense Company Could Make Software for Battlefield-ready AR Headsets

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook in 2017 to found his own defense technology company, Anduril Industries. It’s mostly been in the business of creating AI software, autonomous drones, and threat detection systems, however a Business Insider interview reveals that Anduril is heading back into familiar territory by working on AR/VR software created specifically to aid warfighters on the battlefield.

Brian Schimpf, co-founder and CEO of Anduril, told Business Insider that the company’s software would ideally serve a hypothetical AR/VR headset with the ability to provide soldiers with diagnostics and threat detection, with things on the menu such as alerting its user to gunfire and providing appropriate places to take cover.

Anduril isn’t in the business of making that hypothetical headset however, at least not yet. At the moment, the company is essentially trying to find a way to present available information, gathered from a number of sources, so it’s both intelligible and capable of letting soldiers make correct split-second decisions.

“The real moonshot for us is the idea – you want to have every soldier, every operator, be able to have total awareness of what’s going on,” Schimpf tells Business Insider. “They know everything they need to know to do their job, and all of this is available to them in a millisecond, and just the critical information they need.”

This, Schimpf says, is a “far future” project, although he says the company does have a “couple of very cool things on virtual reality.”

Image courtesy Anduril Industries

With Anduril’s set of interlinked technologies, you may very well imagine a AR/VR headset ca[able of feeding data to soldiers from the company’s ‘Ghost’ UAS, a drone that fits into a backpack that’s capable of autonomously mapping and surveilling territory, or data from the company’s ‘Sentry Tower’, a device deployed in fixed locations and designed to detect and classify threats—a key piece in the company’s virtual border wall.

SEE ALSO
Microsoft Wins $480M Defense Contract to Provide U.S. Army with AR Headsets

Moreover, the headset, should it be deployed to multiple troops in a conflict, could provide a better means of communication, both audio and visual, between forward operators and their base of operations.

Founded shortly after Luckey’s departure from Facebook, Anduril has attracted talent from some of the biggest Silicon Valley players, including Oculus, Palantir, General Atomics, SpaceX, Tesla, and Google—companies that generally shy away from directly developing defense technology. This, Luckey tells CNBC in an interview back in May, is because many of the top tech companies simply won’t due to PR concerns, and both company and shareholder ideology.

Anduril doesn’t have to deal with the issue, as its main goal is provide the US Department of Defense with AI and autonomous technology, of which it currently holds a half-dozen such contracts.

At the time of this writing Anduril has garnered $41 million in investment, valuing the company at $1 billion.

The post Oculus Founder’s Defense Company Could Make Software for Battlefield-ready AR Headsets appeared first on Road to VR.

Zuckerberg Says Facebook Focused On Non-Invasive Brain Interfaces For VR

In a leaked transcript published by The Verge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed his thoughts on brain-computer interfaces and their potential integration with Facebook’s VR and AR products.

During meetings in July, Facebook employees posed a question to Zuckerberg about Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink and how Facebook might integrate similar technology.

“I think as part of AR and VR, we’ll end up having hand interfaces, we’ll end up having voice, and I think we’ll have a little bit of just direct brain … But we’re going for the non-invasive approach, and, actually, it’s kind of exciting how much progress we’re making.”

Musk’s Neuralink appears to be an invasive form of brain interface, meaning it involves surgery or implants, whereas Zuckerberg made it clear Facebook is focusing on non-invasive technology. He joked about the potential headlines if they focused on the former.

We’re more focused on — I think completely focused on non-invasive. [laughter] We’re trying to make AR and VR a big thing in the next five years to 10 years … I don’t know, you think Libra is hard to launch. “Facebook wants to perform brain surgery,” I don’t want to see the congressional hearings on that one.

Facebook is in the process of acquiring CTRL Labs, a startup developing a wristband that would read electrical signals passing through the arm to the wrist and fingers. This could allow for a more advanced input system for VR and might provide advantages compared with the camera-based finger tracking system announced for the Oculus Quest. We were impressed when we tried the Quest finger tracking at Oculus Connect last week, but the CTRL Labs technology might potentially be combined with haptic effects — Facebook revealed such a haptic system earlier this year — that would together provide a next generation hand interaction system.

Zuckerberg also discussed a number of other topics and concerns from Facebook employees in the leaked transcripts.

What do you think of brain-computer interfaces in VR? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Zuckerberg Says Facebook Focused On Non-Invasive Brain Interfaces For VR appeared first on UploadVR.

Mixed Reality Video Solution LIV Secures Funding from Oculus Co-founder Palmer Luckey

Founded in 2016, LIV was created as mixed reality (MR) capture tool for both developers and other creators to film themselves in virtual reality (VR). The company has come a long way since then and is currently on the cusp of leaving Early Access. Today, LIV Inc. has announced a successful $1 million USD funding round, with some major investors supporting the company.

LIV - Beat Saber

Based in Prague, LIV Inc. has been backed by investors including Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey; Jaroslav Beck, CEO and Co-Founder of Beat Games (Beat Saber); early-stage VC’s Seedcamp, TechStars, and Credo Ventures; plus HTC Vive and its accelerator, Vive X; and MR production specialist Splitverse.

LIV Inc. will use the investment to grow its core engineering team, further developing its solution towards videogame developers, content creators and streamers. The company has been integrated into over 150 experiences, with Beat Saber becoming its most high profile viewing experience. Additionally, upcoming support for Oculus Native SDK is on its way.

“We think that VR is the final computing platform, and in a world where VR is mainstay we need tools for creators and developers to share their experiences in real-time. In VR, your whole body is your controller, and we had to include that human nuance into the spectator experience. We’ve taken VR from a “must try to believe” experience, to something you can watch on a 2D screen whilst still really understanding the magic of 6 degrees of freedom that VR offers,” said LIV’s CEO and Founder AJ Shewki in a statement.

LIV

“I created the Oculus Rift because I wanted the ability to transport myself into virtual worlds.  AJ and his team have taken the next step towards that goal, empowering creators and developers to present themselves and their avatars however they want during live gaming and broadcast.  I love what they have already done, and I am an investor because I am so excited about what they will do next,” said Palmer Luckey, Oculus Rift’s Creator and Oculus’ Founder.

Completely free through Steam, LIV 1.0 is available via the public beta branch on Steam, offering its latest feature, LIV Avatars.

“We have some pioneers within our field on the team and are now backed by the people and companies that created VR as we know it,” Shewki adds. “Together we are playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of the industry. Our kit is being pushed further and further afield, and all our partners, creators, and audience are as excited as us to see what comes next.”

VRFocus will continue its coverage of LIV, reporting back with the latest updates.