Virtual reality hardware makers are out in force at the 11th annual TangoAOLOLO conference, pitching parents on their product offerings. Among them is Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who came armed with some advice for parents worried about the products’ level of safety. (Facebook acquired Luckey’s company in 2014.)
“Concern for your kids’ safety is a good thing,” Luckey told moderator Samantha Gilbert, a research associate at Harvard University. “I’m very protective of children, my wife’s very protective of children, and that’s what is bringing VR into the home.”
The biggest challenge when it comes to educating the public, Luckey said, is getting parents “to take what you say to them seriously, which is hard sometimes.” He said most VR developers have made an effort to address questions and concerns, and that he sees “a ton of energy in the industry” behind safety.
Luckey, who has maintained a very low profile since he stepped down from the Oculus board of directors in early 2016, talked to Gilbert about his thoughts on VR’s larger place in the marketplace: “I believe that VR has the potential to change the way we experience the world.” For now, Luckey said, “the market is always in a state of disruption, and it’s always exciting,” but “on the other hand, it also means that there is a lot of scope for growth.”
Other VR companies, such as Sony’s Morpheus, the HTC Vive and the recently announced Oculus, offer some newer consumer-friendly options, some of which have been mixed with avatars — immersive comic-book renderings of virtual characters that can be upgraded with real-life clothing, furniture and accessories.
Still, as the Oculus founder noted, these kinds of enhancements are still in their infancy, and many of these game consoles are still in their infancy.
“It’s a weird time for VR right now,” Luckey said. “It’s a lot more fun to be crazy in Seattle than it is in Tokyo.”
Meanwhile, the military’s Special Operations Command has been trying out a pair of Microsoft HoloLens devices this summer as part of its enhanced training strategy. Those glasses, which let users interact with 3-D imagery through a head-mounted display, are much more comfortable than headsets that drop down from space-age flight simulators. As they say in San Francisco’s Mission Local, “Dr. Satchmo Wants VR for Suckers.”