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Virtual reality will have to wait a little longer to become reality courtesy of Facebook, Palmer Luckey, Carmack, and comp.

Backed by legendary video game developer and graphics innovator John Carmack, Oculus VR (VR=virtual reality) seemed destined for greatness in the field of virtual reality -- a gaming gimmick that long overpromised and underdelivered.  The company's Kickstarter reflected on the public's optimism.  Oculus VR asked for $250,000 USD, but ended up raising a whopping $2,437,429 USD from 9,522 backers (the Kickstarter closed on Sept. 1).  And last March the frenzy built even higher when social network giant Facebook, Inc. (FB) acquired Oculus VR for $2B USD in cash and stock.

But things have gotten kind of quiet since then, other than the ongoing drama with ZeniMax Media Inc. (owner of the Bethesda and ID game studios) who contends in a lawsuit that Carmack (its former employee) stole the Oculus technology.  So what's up with Oculus?

Oculus VR

At a keynote at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) show, Oculus VR founder and chief Palmer Luckey confirmed that the release date would likely slip from his previous estimate (late 2015) to early 2016.  Previously he said that unless "something goes horribly wrong" that wouldn't happen.  But at SXSW Palmer said that in spite of the slippage in the release date, all was well at Oculus -- in fact, better than well, he claims.  He states:

I did say that before we made a lot of changes to our roadmap and we've expanded a lot of the ambition we had around the product and what we wanted to do. Us partnering with Facebook allowed us a lot of things that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise like hire 300 people to be working on getting the Rift out as quickly as possible at the level we want it. I can't comment on the date one way or another in either direction but I can say that nothing is going horribly wrong. Everything is going horribly right.



Hopefully things are going as well as claimed, but the slippage may still rub some Oculus supporters the wrong way.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) Galaxy Gear VR headset is relying on Oculus VR's technology, which it hopes to use to bring VR gaming into the smartphone space.

If Oculus and its parent Facebook drop the ball on Oculus Rift, competitors could capitalize.  Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), who has a lot of experience in real world head-mounted display (HMD) product, is working on a VR/HMD wearable called "Morpheus" for the PlaySation 4 (PS4).  In January Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) showed off a HMD concept called HoloLens.  And while it insists it isn't competing with Oculus Rift, it could easily decide to target Rift's audience.

Finally, there's the quirky duo of legendary American game studio Valve Corp. and Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) who are crafting the HTC Vive VR, a wearable setting aim at both smartphone and for gaming applications.  

HTC Vive VR
HTC and Valve have promised to ship Vive VR this holiday season, which means they could beat Oculus Rift and the associated Galaxy Gear VR to market.

The Vive VR was announced last month and HTC has promised availability in "Holiday 2015".  If it can stick to that roadmap, it just may beat Oculus Rif to market.

Sources: Twitch.tv (SXSW keynote), via Neowin





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