The view from within the electronics industry – individual comment pieces from people working in the technology sector.

More Virtual Than Real

With Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of the Kickstarter-funded Oculus Rift, VR is once again the NBT, says David Manners. The trouble with VR is that it’s been more virtual than real…

Oculus Rift virtual reality headset

Oculus Rift virtual reality headset

There's no idea like an old idea. Remember the Inmos spin-off Division founded 25 years ago by Charles Grimsdale?

Division, founded in 1989 to pursue Virtual Reality got a stock market listing in 1993. VR, thanks to Inmos' parallel processing Transputer, was the next big thing.

Now, with Facebook's $2 billion purchase of the Kickstarter-funded Oculus Rift, VR is once again, the NBT.

Oculus Rift started in 2012 as $10 a person Kickstarter round which raised $10,000. A second Kickstarter round requiring individual $300 investments raised $2.4 million. In December it raised $75 million in a funding round led by VC Andreessen Horowitz.

The trouble with VR is that it's been more virtual than real. If the idea is that you think you're in a real world when you put on the kit, then it has lamentably failed to achieve it.

Nonetheless VR remains a route to immersive gaming and that's what Facebook appears to have bought it for, at least initially.

For the last 25 years the hype around VR has resembled the current hype around IOT - lots of expectation without anyone telling us precisely what to expect.

In the 80s there was a lot of excitement about the development of an Orgasmatron in, of all places, Wimbledon. The fabled operation was called Project Lulu.

It would seem that, if it ever existed, it never succeeded. Imagine what Facebook would pay for a company which came up with an Orgasmatron.

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