Founder of Oculus might be returning to consumer VR with something “really cool”

Founder of Oculus might be returning to consumer VR with something “really cool”
At this year’s AWE (Augmented World Expo) at Long Beach, California, we saw Palmer Luckey take to the stage. We knew from a tweet some time ago that Luckey would announce something at AWE. And as the tweet revealed back then, Luckey is working on an XR (Extended Reality) device of his own.

Palmer Luckey founded Oculus back in 2012, which he then sold to Meta — known as Facebook back then — in 2014. Oculus today is a division under Meta by the name of Reality Labs. Reality Labs handles the Quest line of VR headsets and other XR products. The division also recently saw some layoffs and internal restructuring.

Luckey didn’t go into much detail about what his new XR device would look like or do. He has been working for the defense sector for years now under his company Anduril Industries, something that’s also caused controversy alongside his political leanings. Hence, his potential return to the consumer industry is somewhat unprecedented.

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Palmer Luckey’s startup led to the Meta Quest 3 today.

And it’s not like Luckey is completely transitioning away from the defense sector. He said that his new headset would be “driven” by defense requirements but also be used for other purposes. Luckey also described the upcoming XR device as “really cool”.

What could Palmer Luckey be working on?

As someone who practically kickstarted the modern consumer VR industry, Palmer Luckey could be bringing a myriad of ideas to the table. One possible use case his XR headset might have is starting a platform for other XR manufacturers to use.

When Meta made Quest OS open-source, Luckey said he hoped it wasn’t too late. Apparently, this was something he had always told Meta to do but the company never listened. Luckey is still a big name in the XR industry — even featured in this year’s AWE Hall of Fame — so he shouldn’t have any trouble rallying support for a new platform he founded, in my opinion.

Another field Luckey might tackle, but most likely won’t, is adult entertainment. Luckey talked about how this category in the XR industry was a “wasteland”, while other fields like gaming were over-saturated. Though he said this wasn’t necessarily what he was aiming for, he claimed it would be a much easier industry to capitalize on.

Luckey also mentioned how such entertainment didn’t necessarily have to be the first thing that jumps to mind. He talked about the breadth of human emotions and how there is so much more XR companies can offer consumers.

If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say Luckey might be focusing on creating something that transcends traditional VR. Current VR experiences rely almost entirely on just visual presentation. But if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that full-body Virtual Reality hardware will sell insanely well.

With Luckey’s time working with the defense sector, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he’s working on realistic haptic feedback. It isn’t completely in the realm of science fiction either. Recently, researchers at the University of Chicago created a device that stimulated the brain for haptic feedback in VR experiences.

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Apple Vision Pro’s intuitive eye tracking also provides a greater sense of immersion if implemented correctly.

Whatever it is that Luckey is cooking up, he seems to think it’s pretty great. The lack of any real information also suggests he might have been trying to get people hyped and score some backing for his project. Whatever it was, it worked on me. I can’t wait to see what he announces a few years down the line.

Until then, however, we still have other XR devices to look forward to. Meta seems to be readying itself to push the envelope with AI-powered AR smart glasses. And there’s also other cool innovations taking place: like Sightful’s Spacetop G1 which I love the sound of.
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