|Oculus VR, LLC (2012-2018)|
|Founded||July 2012Irvine, California, U.S.in|
Facebook Technologies, LLC, doing business as Oculus, is an American technology company founded by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov and Nate Mitchell in July 2012 in Irvine, California, now based in Menlo Park. It specializes in virtual reality hardware and software products.
In April 2012, Luckey announced the Rift, a virtual reality headset designed for video gaming, and launched a Kickstarter campaign in August to make virtual reality headsets available to developers. The campaign proved successful and raised $2.4 million, ten times the original goal of $250,000. Two pre-production models were released to developers; the Oculus VR DK1 (Development Kit 1) and Oculus VR DK2 (Development Kit 2). The consumer product was released on March 28, 2016 with an all-new design incorporating specialized VR displays, positional audio, and infrared tracking system.
In March 2014, Facebook, Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to acquire Oculus for US$2.3 billion in cash and stock. In 2015, Oculus acquired Surreal Vision, a British startup focused on 3D reconstruction and mixed reality, stating that it could be possible for Oculus to develop products with the concept of telepresence.
As a head-mounted display (HMD) designer at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Palmer Luckey earned a reputation for having the largest personal collection of HMDs in the world, and was a longtime moderator in Meant to be Seen (MTBS)'s discussion forums.
Through MTBS's forums, Palmer developed the idea of creating a new head-mounted display that was both more effective than what was currently on the market and was also inexpensive for gamers. To develop the new product, Luckey founded Oculus VR with Scaleform co-founders Brendan Iribe and Michael Antonov, Nate Mitchell and Andrew Scott Reisse.
Coincidentally, John Carmack of id Software had been doing his own research on HMDs and happened upon Palmer's developments as a fellow MTBS member.[better source needed] After sampling an early unit, Carmack favored Luckey's prototype and just before the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), id Software announced that their future updated version of Doom 3, Doom 3 BFG Edition, would be compatible with head-mounted display units.
During the convention, Carmack introduced a duct taped head-mounted display, based on Palmer's Oculus Rift prototype, which ran Carmack's own software. The unit featured a high speed IMU and a 5.6-inch (14 cm) LCD, visible via dual lenses that were positioned over the eyes to provide a 90 degree horizontal and 110 degree vertical stereoscopic 3D perspective. Carmack later left id Software as he was hired as Oculus VR's Chief technology officer.
Following the demonstration of the Oculus Rift prototype at E3 in June 2012, on August 1, 2012, the company announced a Kickstarter campaign to further develop the product. Oculus announced that the "dev kit" version of the Oculus Rift would be given as a reward to backers who pledged $300 or more on Kickstarter, with an expected shipping date set of December 2012 (though they did not actually ship until March 2013).
There was also a limited run of 100 unassembled Rift prototype kits for pledges over $275 that would ship a month earlier. Both versions were intended to include Doom 3 BFG Edition, but Rift support in the game was not ready, so to make up for it they included a choice of discount vouchers for either Steam or the Oculus store. Within four hours of the announcement, Oculus secured its intended amount of US$250,000, and in less than 36 hours, the campaign had surpassed $1 million in funding, eventually ending with $2,437,429.
On December 12, 2013, Marc Andreessen joined the company's board when his firm, Andreessen Horowitz, led the $75 million Series B venture funding. In total, Oculus VR has raised $91 million with $2.4 million raised via crowdfunding.
Although Oculus had only released a development prototype of its headset, on March 25, 2014, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook, Inc. would be acquiring Oculus for US$ 2 billion, pending regulatory approval. The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million common shares of Facebook, valued at $1.6 billion, as well as additional $300 million assuming Facebook reaches certain milestones. This move was ridiculed by some backers who felt the acquisition was counter to the independent ideology of crowdfunding.
Many Kickstarter backers and game industry figures, such as Minecraft developer Markus Persson, criticized the sale of Oculus to Facebook. On March 28, 2014, it was announced that Michael Abrash had joined the company as Chief Scientist.
As of January 2015, the Oculus headquarters has been moved from Irvine, California to Menlo Park, where Facebook's Headquarters is also located. Oculus has stated that this move is for their employees to be closer to Silicon Valley.
During the course of 2014-15, two Innovator Editions (in-development versions of the Gear VR mainly sold to developers for sole research and understanding) were developed, manufactured, and sold. The device that the Innovator Editions used was the Note 4.
On November 20, 2015, the consumer edition of the Gear VR was released to the public, and sold out during the first shipments. The device supported the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, and later, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
In May 2015, Oculus acquired British company Surreal Vision, a company based on 3D scene-mapping reconstruction and augmented reality. News reported that Oculus and Surreal Vision could create "mixed reality" technology in Oculus' products, similar to the upcoming HMD, Microsoft HoloLens. They reported that Oculus, with Surreal's help, will make telepresence possible.
On December 28, 2016 media reported that Facebook, the parent company of Oculus, has acquired the Danish startup The Eye Tribe for an undisclosed amount. The company delivers eye tracking technology used to improve virtual reality user experience and has developed foveated rendering, a technology that only renders at the highest resolution where the user is looking. A lower resolution is used further away from the center of the visual field, reducing computation time.
In September 2018, Oculus became a division of a new structural entity within Facebook known as Facebook Technologies, LLC. Facebook announced in August 2018 they had entered negotiations to lease the entire Burlingame Point campus in Burlingame, California, then under construction. The lease was executed in late 2018, and the site, owned by Kylli, a subsidiary of Genzon Investment Group, is expected to be complete by 2020. Oculus is expected to move to Burlingame Point when development is complete.
On August 13, 2019, Nate Mitchell, Oculus co-founder and VP of product announced his departure from the company.
On November 13, 2019, John Carmack wrote in a Facebook post that he would step down as CTO of Oculus to focus on developing artificial general intelligence. He stated he would remain involved with the company as a "Consulting CTO."
Following Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR, ZeniMax Media, the parent company of id Software and John Carmack's previous employer, sought legal action against Oculus, accusing the company of theft of intellectual property relating to the Oculus Rift due to Carmack's transition from id Software to Oculus. The case, ZeniMax v. Oculus, was heard in a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and their verdict was reached in February 2017, finding that Carmack had taken code from ZeniMax and used it in developing the Oculus Rift's software, violating his non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax, and Oculus' use of the code was considered copyright infringement. ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in the verdict, and both ZeniMax and Oculus are seeking further court actions.
Oculus's current product line consists of three models; the Oculus Rift S headset for PCs, as well as Oculus Go and Oculus Quest--standalone headsets which contain integrated mobile computing hardware and do not require a PC to operate. In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the original Oculus Rift "CV1", Go, and Quest were the company's first generation of products, and expected new iterations of the three to be developed for a second generation of the company's technology. Oculus began to phase out the original Oculus Rift "CV1" in 2019, in favor of the Oculus Rift S.
The Oculus Rift CV1, also known as simply the Oculus Rift, was the first consumer model of the Oculus Rift headset. It was released on March 28, 2016 in 20 countries, at a starting price of US$599. The 6,955 backers who received the Development Kit 1 prototype via the original Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign were eligible to receive the CV1 model for free. On December 6, 2016, Oculus released motion controller accessories for the headset known as Oculus Touch.
On October 11, 2017, Oculus unveiled the Oculus Go, a mobile VR headset manufactured by Xiaomi (the device was released in the Chinese market as the Xiaomi Mi VR). Unlike the Oculus Rift, the Go is a standalone headset which is not dependent on a PC for operation. Unlike VR systems such as Cardboard, Daydream, and the Oculus co-developed Samsung Gear VR (where VR software is run on a smartphone inserted into a physical enclosure, and its screen is viewed through lenses), it contains its own dedicated display and mobile computing hardware. The headset includes a 5.5-inch 1440p fast-switching LCD display, integrated speakers with spatial audio and a headphone jack for external audio, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system-on-chip, and 32 or 64 GB of internal storage. It runs an Android-based operating system with access to VR software via the Oculus Home user experience and app store, including games and multimedia apps. The Go includes a handheld controller reminiscent of one designed for the Gear VR, which uses relative motion tracking. The Oculus Go does not use positional tracking.
While official sales numbers have not been released, according to IDC the Oculus Go and Xiaomi Mi VR had sold nearly a quarter million units combined during the third quarter 2018, and in January 2019 market analysis firm SuperData estimated that over a million Oculus Go units had been sold since the device's launch. In his keynote at 2018's Oculus Connect developer conference, John Carmack revealed that the Go's retention rate was as high as the Rift's, something that nobody at the company had predicted. Carmack also noted that the Go had done especially well in Japan despite lacking internationalization support and the company not specifically catering to the Japanese market.
On September 26, 2018, Oculus unveiled a second standalone headset known as the Oculus Quest. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the Quest was part of a goal to reach one billion VR users. Similarly to the Oculus Go, it uses embedded mobile hardware, including a Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip and 64 or 128 GB of internal storage. The Quest uses OLED displays with a resolution of 1600x1440 per-eye and running at 72 Hz. It features an "inside-out" motion tracking system known as "Oculus Insight", which consists of a series of cameras embedded in the headset. The Quest is bundled with an iteration of the Oculus Touch controllers, which were slightly redesigned to properly function with Insight. Popular Oculus Rift titles for PC were ported to Quest as launch titles, including Beat Saber and Robo Recall. It also supports cross-platform multiplayer and cross-buys between PC and Quest. Oculus VR stated that they would impose stricter content and quality standards for software distributed for Quest than its other platforms, including requiring developers to undergo a pre-screening of their concepts to demonstrate "quality and probable market success".
In November 2019, Oculus released a beta for a new feature known as Oculus Link, which allows the Quest to be used with Oculus Rift-compatible games and software by attaching it to a PC over USB 3.
On March 20, 2019 at the Game Developers Conference, Oculus announced the Oculus Rift S, a successor to the original Oculus Rift headset. It was co-developed with and manufactured by Lenovo, and launched at a price of US$399. The Rift S contains hardware improvements inherited from the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest, including Oculus Insight, integrated speakers, and a new "halo" strap. The Rift S uses the same 1440p fast-switching LCD display and lenses as the Oculus Go (a higher resolution in comparison to the original model, but lower in comparison to Oculus Quest), running at 80 Hz, and is backwards compatible with all existing Oculus Rift games and software. Unlike the original Oculus Rift, it does not have hardware control for inter-pupillary distance.
Oculus Studios is a division of Oculus that focuses on funding, publishing and giving technical advice to third party studios to create games and experiences for Oculus Rift. Facebook pledged to invest more than $500 million USD in Oculus Studios for games.
Oculus Story Studio was an original animated virtual-reality film studio that was founded in 2014. The studio was started by Oculus to pioneer animated virtual reality filmmaking and educate, inspire, and foster community for filmmakers interested in VR.
The studio was led by Creative Director Saschka Unseld, a six-year veteran of Pixar.
Now, I was probably the most optimistic inside Oculus about how well Go would do, but it turned out that it exceeded even my expectations. A remarkable point is, Go is retaining as well as Rift. And that's pretty shocking. Nobody predicted that.
The one shock was how well we've done in Japan. ... we are not catering to the Japanese market. We don't have great internationalisation for Japanese and different areas, but something about Go has really struck a nerve in the Japanese market consciousness.