The growth of the virtual reality community remains steadfast in 2015 as a multitude of startups and tech behemoths jump in the race to build the computing platform of the future. We’ve also seen the formation of the first VR accelerator dubbed, “The River”, from Rothenberg Ventures. As the ecosystem begins to take shape, few would argue that Oculus isn’t in the lead with regards to having the most impressive tech, content and branding. The company most recently introduced 3D tracked audio at CES 2015 and stole the show at the Sundance Film Festival by announcing the formation of Oculus Story Studio, which will focus on creating in-house “cinematic experiences”.
Such high regard in the VR community amongst a sea of enthusiasts makes for an environment where very little sneaks under the radar. Case in point: Max Planck, who spent 10 years at Pixar as a “Global Technologist”, and now technical director at Oculus Story Studio hinted in a recent interview with UploadVR to a May release of the highly-anticipated consumer model, Oculus CV1. Responding to a question about why he made the jump to Oculus, Planck described a consumer model falling in the 300-400 dollar price range and was quoted saying, “Plus, May is getting close.” — a nod to the mythical CV1 becoming a reality in the near future.
Before this supposed confirmation of a May release for the CV1 could be fully digested by the VR community, Oculus founder and CEO Palmer Luckey took to the ever-popular Oculus subreddit and set the record straight. Luckey replied to a post linking to the UploadVR interview with Planck by stating, “May is no special month for the Rift, nor do we have price locked down for CV1.”
The misinformation was shrugged off as nothing more than a new hire that had misspoken. More interestingly, Luckey revealed that the computers used as demo rigs for Oculus internal prototypes and public exhibitions run on a Falcon Northwest Tiki with a regular GTX 980 amounting to a cost around $2000. Clearly, Oculus remains committed to the hardcore gaming community with this news. They’re not building their products out for lavishly expensive machines, in order to optimize for a standardized experience, which will be critical in VR gaining mass adoption.
Luckey also confirmed the long-term goal of providing a solid wireless experience for future Oculus VR products, “We are always researching new things internally, but we are a long ways away from wireless video transmission and alternative tracking technologies getting good enough from VR.”
Oculus is taking their time to get the product right and cultivating their developer community in the right way by playing long-ball. New releases are arriving for their DK2 development unit by the day and the movement seems very organic. There is no manufactured hype around Oculus and VR in general like we saw in the case of Google Glass. We are only at the beginning of this next technology cycle, but one thing is certain, users are genuinely excited about what the future holds for virtual reality.