That crazy Oculus Rift virtual reality headset continues to blaze trails in Silicon Valley as it wraps up a successful second round of investment. This time, Oculus VR, as the company is called, walked away with $75 million dollars worth of funding for its big push to finally work on developing a consumer retail version of the prototype head-mounted display that has been available to developers–or just the curious–for $300. Oculus VR has always stressed that the currently available development kit is NOT intended for consumer use, and is an early stage prototype to allow developers both big and small to get a feel for the technology and start developing games, applications and other software for it. The latest publicly debuted model was shown off at this year’s E3, and although it was still physically bulky and had a lot of obvious physical design problems, it was running at 1080p and 60 frames per second.
Oculus VR has so far had an astounding amount of positive reception, a stark contrast to the the virtual reality craze of the 90s, where the concept excited both the industry and public imagination, but the actual products fell far short of expectations, killing the momentum and hype. This time, it looks like the technology is finally ready, as Oculus VR first made their intentions known as a Kickstarter project that exceeded its humble request for $250, 000 within four hours of going public. Its final tally at the end of the Kickstarter campaign was $2.4 million, and when Oculus VR went looking for outside investment, the first round netted the company $16 million. In addition, some big, BIG names in the industry such as John Carmack, creator of Doom and founder of iD software got so excited by the technology that not only did he invest in the company, he quit iD to work full time at Oculus VR.
There are still some technical hurdles for the Oculus Rift unit to overcome, which is one of the reasons Carmack is getting personally involved as their Chief Technology Officer. Lag is still an ever present concern, and there’s still a significant number of users that experience mild to severe motion sickness when using a VR unit. These are not small issues, but the technology has enough people in the industry excited that there are even rumors that companies like Sony and Microsoft are exploring their own VR options, likely to prevent Oculus VR from having a monopoly on the latest tech.