After Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was outed for “shit-posting” about Hillary Clinton, he was a “no show” at the Oculus Connect 3 Conference where Facebook doubled down on their corporate commitment by offering another $250 million in developer support cash.
Luckey created Oculus Rift from a small dollar Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and then sold it two years later to Facebook for $2 billion. Since the acquisition, Luckey has become the celebrity “face of virtual reality in gaming” tens of thousands of first mover enthusiasts.
Despite being a billionaire, Luckey’s standard garb has been sandals, shorts and Hawaiian shirts at national conferences. He also lives in a shared house with several others top-ranked multiplayer videogamers.
But as Breitbart News reported in late September, Luckey was outed as the anonymous billionaire behind a $10,000 donation to ‘Nimble America’, a pro-Donald Trump group that the Left claims are alt-right and white supremacy advocates. Nimble has been very active at posting negative stories about the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton online – a practice the Left calls “shit-posting.”
A number of VR developers, including Scruta Games and Tomorrow Today Labs, have claimed they will not give their support to the roll-out of Oculus Touch as long as Luckey remains at the company. But the loss of Luckey would also cause huge dissention from his legions of avid social media followers.
Despite having to follow Google’s highly-touted $79 “Daydream VR” fabric encrusted stand-alone peripheral for their new Pixel phone line that premiered two days earlier, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seamlessly slipped into Luckey’s role to host 2,000 attendees in San Jose for the Oculus Connect 3 developer conference that began on October 6.
Zuckerberg quickly crushed all the back-biting and the political friction regarding Luckey by announcing that Facebook intends to add another $250 million to the $250 million the company has already invested in developing virtual reality (VR) applications.
Zuckerberg commented, “We should [all] build software and experiences that follow the way our minds work and the way we process the world.” He then astounded developers by unveiling a new prototype wireless version of its Oculus Rift headset.
The Bluetooth enabled device is Oculus’ third VR and by far the most powerful device. The prototype uses a headset camera for its software to determine the position of the user within a millimeter, a technique Oculus calls “inside-out tracking”. Current Oculus systems rely on a much less precise system of cameras and sensors in the same room.
Eric Florenzano, Oculus VR senior software engineer recruited from Twitter, commented that “inside-out tracking” has the potential to be an entirely new product category. He highlighted, “If the device can track your position in a room, you could leave the room where the device is and even walk outside. It starts to blur the line between virtual and augmented reality.”
Zuckerberg demonstrated a couple of very engaging applications. AltSpace VR will allow up to eight Oculus VR users to enter in a virtual world as liquid-metal avatars. The participants can hang-out and chat, or engage in realistic play, like fencing.
By adding an Oculus’s Touch handset, Zuckerberg was able to mimic using a selfie stick to take a virtual reality picture of himself and his wife Priscilla Chan, then seamlessly post to Facebook with a single hand swipe.
Despite Oculus only having about 1 million Oculus VR users worldwide, compared to Facebook’s 1.1 billion users, Zuckerberg emphasized that virtual reality will eventually dominate social media.
As a sign of Facebook’s commitment to move ahead with the attendees that came to Oculus Connect 3, Zuckerberg announced that Oculus was launching a $10 million development fund at the conference to drive a rapid expansion into educational content.