VR is set to enter a new phase after a decade of Carmack

In December 2012 I published my first in-depth article after a demo with a handcrafted Oculus VR prototype.

After a decade, Oculus VR is goneright NowAnd the first faces to rally support from developers and enthusiasts for the imminent consumer revival of virtual reality have moved on to other startups. Palmer Luckey has been fired and is now focusing on his defense startup while John Carmack, longtime chief technology officer of Oculus VR, is working to executive consultant, now Everything is in the buildingArtificial General Intelligence at his start-up.

Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe looking at a Rift prototype in 2012.
Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe looking at a Rift prototype in 2012.

While Luckey departed with a statement from his Facebook PR, Carmack made his internal letter of resignation public after media broke the news:

He wrote, “Everything could have happened a little faster and ran better if different decisions had been made, but we’ve built something very close to the right thing.” “The issue is our efficiency.”

Below is an excerpt from a video from 2015 of Carmack telling me that rather than focusing on indoor-out tracking (which would later become key to the Quest VR headset), dozens of computer vision engineers at Oculus have been working on a “sort of esoteric research stuff while this is a problem.” I want to solve it now, I wish someone spent all this last year on it.”

Given the weight of these comments, I thought it was interesting to revisit what Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said during my first demo 10 years ago.

“Now that’s a 60Hz screen,” Iribe told me, “that’s what cell phones are for, a 60Hz screen.” So it refreshes 60 times per second. In the future, we’re going to get a faster screen, we’re going to have a 120Hz screen… which means instead of the game running at 60fps you want to run it at 120fps or 240fps. “

Added Iribe, “All the good news for someone like Carmack who loves to give their best performance.”

As of 2022, the Meta Quest 2 plays fully standalone VR at 120 frames per second. By enabling the option in a menu, you can pair the headset with Touch Pro controllers that feature the latest internal tracking.

Carmack appears to have gotten the performance he wanted from the VR hardware, but not from the Zuckerberg Foundation.

“We have an enormous number of people and resources, but we constantly sabotage ourselves and waste efforts,” Carmack wrote. “There’s no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization works half as effectively as it makes me happy. Some might scoff and argue we’re doing a good job, but others will laugh and say ‘Half? Ha! I’m in a quarter efficient! “

Meta builds towards augmented reality glasses from the beginnings of Oculus VR

Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO and Andrew Bosworth is the chief technology officer of Meta, and Quest 2 is the leading VR headset on the market. Together, they began shaping the next decade’s work at Reality Lab, from wrist-based inputs for augmented reality to retinal resolution for virtual reality.

After laying off 11,000 people last month, Bosworth wrote today:80% of all Meta investments support the underlying business, with the other 20% going towards Reality Lab.”

“While we will continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently, what will not change in 2023 is our long-term vision and research efforts to get there,” Bosworth wrote. Building augmented reality glasses will require an enormous array of inventions and inventions in all sorts of fields, from miniature lenses and screens to lightweight materials and AI-powered interfaces. While our virtual reality hardware and software gets most of the public’s attention, we direct about half of our Reality Labs operating expenses toward augmented reality initiatives..”

Meta’s path to Quest over the past decade puts the company at the forefront of a still relatively nascent VR market that underpins some amazing gaming experiences. As Meta moves to build its own mixed reality features and AR platform from these beginnings, Carmack’s resignation is a warning to the Zuckerberg, Bosworth, and Meta teams. His call to focus and improve will likely be cited countless times internally at the Meta in the coming years, but his words also point to opportunity at companies like Sony, Pico, HTC, Valve, Apple and Google.


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