He helped giving virtual reality a definite shape and to start a craze of VR technology among common people. Facebook has officially announced the departure of Palmer Luckey via a statement that Palmer will be dearly missed. His legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern Virtual Reality revolution and helped build an industry. We are thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR and wish him all the best.
Although facebook has further declined to comment any further details and also did not mention that whether Palmer would provide an official statement too.
Conception and growth of Oculus
Palmer Luckey was interested in Virtual Reality since childhood and was quite disappointed with the inadequacy of the head-mounted display units of that time. They used to suffer from low-quality contrast, high latency, high cost and extreme weight and improper size. Palmer developed his first prototype called PR1 at the young age of 17. It featured a 90-degree field of view and low latency.
After that, he developed a series of prototypes exploring different features like the 270-degree view, 3D environment, wireless, and also decreasing the size and weight of the units. He actively updated his progress on MTBS3D, a virtual reality forum with a limited number of virtual reality enthusiasts.
Later, he named the 6th generation VR unit as "Rift", and decided to be sold on a Kickstarter crowdfunding to other fellow VR enthusiasts. He further started working on an Oculus VR to further polish it better before facilitating an official launch of the Kickstarter campaign.
John Carmack, a software engineer, quite notable for developing video game applications and has famously worked on Doom and Quake application, asked for a prototype and used it to demonstrate a refined version of Doom 3 BFG Edition at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. It was the first time when thousands of people got to know about Rift, and eventually, Palmer dropped out of the University and started working on Oculus Rift for full-time.
Now was the time of focusing on the Kickstarter campaign. Palmer managed to get a funding of some hundred thousand dollars from Brendan Iribe (a former executive of Scaleform). Later Iribe joined Oculus as the CEO. During the Kickstarter campaign, Palmer demonstrated the Oculus Rift to the different crowd at various conventions like PAX, Gamescom, and QuackCon 2012.
The Kickstarter campaign was proved hugely successful and they raised approximately $2.4 million dollars which were more than 900% of the expected outcome. Later in 2014, Oculus Rift was acquired by the Facebook in 2014 for the US $3 billion dollars, and Forbes magazine had predicted that Palmer's Net worth to be around $700 million dollars. He was working continuously at Oculus VR on the core Virtual Reality technology until March 2017.
When did problems start?
Palmer had been the public face of the Oculus VR but his public appearances had been reduced since September last year. He was financially linked to a Donald Trump Supporting "shitposting" group named "Nimble America". It was found that he had given $15,000 dollars to the group. It created a backlash among the VR community and Palmer quickly apologized for the impact that the Oculus had to face. He did not appear at Oculus's Annual Connect Conference although he had appeared previously as the keynote speaker.
In January the id Software owner Zenimax Media accused Oculus of stealing their technology but Oculus was cleared of the worst charges, but they were liable to pay $300 million dollars for various charges. Palmer was himself liable to pay $50 million dollars for damages.
Luckey's departure is quite shocking as it comes just after the first anniversary of the user launch of its flagship VR device, the Rift. It came after years of limited release of different prototypes and developers kit.
At the time of launch, the Rift was priced at $600 which was way more than $350 dollars which Palmer had earlier promised. It led to negative reviews from the customers too. Another reason for the departure of Palmer could be the unexpected lower number of units sold of the Rift. Oculus shipped approximately 2,40,000 units of the Rift in 2016 only. If we compare it to the Samsung's VR unit then it sold approximately five million units. Ironically Samsung is using the same technology developed by Oculus itself.
Public image of Luckey Palmer
Luckey Palmer has been considered a poster boy of Virtual Reality in Gaming and is considered a celebrity among the virtual reality enthusiasts. Although Luckey does not consider himself a celebrity and is known for sporting a casual appearance even in the public meeting and seminars. He was been awarded the Royal Photographic Society's Progress medal and Honorary Fellowship. This award is given to the person in recognition of any invention, research or publication or other contribution in an important advice in the scientific or technological advancements.
Ruchhir Agarwal is the Chief Executive and Technology Officer at E2logy and providing mobile app development services to the digital world. He is a technology enthusiast and a passionate blogger. Ruchhir leads the company in developing custom web and mobile applications that exhibit powerful features and latest technology.