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Oculus VR Lures Michael Abrash from Valve to be Chief Scientist

Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR, the company behind the hotly anticipated Oculus Rift VR headset, was arguably the biggest tech headline of the week. But it looks like Oculus and Facebook aren't quite done making waves. Just in time for the weekend, Oculus VR has announced the arrival of a brand new lead scientist, and it's none other than Valve's Michael Abrash.

Having worked with Oculus CTO John Carmack at id Software, Abrash joined Valve in 2011 where he played a key role in Valve's AR and VR efforts. Given his history with Carmack and passion for VR, Abrash fits right in at Oculus. No doubt his decision to join the company is good news for those who worry the Facebook acquisition is a death knell for the Oculus we've come to know over the last two years.

Read more: id Software's Loss Was Oculus VR's Gain: Why Carmack Left

Abrash penned a blog post over on the official Oculus VR blog talking about how he and his team at Valve started work on VR just as Palmer Luckey's Oculus Rift project was really gaining traction. Abrash goes on to praise the Facebook acquisition as just what VR needs.

"[…]I've written before that VR wouldn't become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware – and that it wouldn't be clear that it made sense to spend that capital until VR was truly great," Abrash writes. "I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff. That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR – and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can."

Speaking via Facebook earlier this week, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg assured people that Oculus VR's current plans for gaming will not change. Zuckerberg said that gaming will be the first frontier when it comes to VR, with plans for further implementation (education, healthcare, and social interaction) coming later. For now, the social network wants to focus on accelerating the development of Rift. No doubt Chief Scientist Michael Abrash will have plenty to contribute on that front.

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  • MrMusAddict
    I'm with Abrash here. I was initially hurt and feared the acquisition by Facebook, but the new found capital will only speed up the development with better hardware. I honestly don't care if/how Facebook could possibly track data (even though as a peripheral I highly doubt it would be anything significant). As long as they don't do anything intrusive or obtrusive, I couldn't be happier about this.

    And hey, knowing it IS a peripheral, there won't be anything obtrusive (cause hey, who would be stupid enough to run ads on a monitor they sell?).
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  • spartanmk2
    And hey, knowing it IS a peripheral, there won't be anything obtrusive (cause hey, who would be stupid enough to run ads on a monitor they sell?).
    My Samsung TV must be broke then cuz I've been getting these here commercial ads for Samsung TV's, tablets, and phones since the day I turned the thing on.
    Reply
  • alchemy69
    Too late, I hate it now. WAHHH, WAAAHHHHH!
    Reply
  • everlast66
    I wander how well did this go with Valve. Oculus might be getting quite a lot of interested parties alienated.First it was Kickstarter backers that enabled the project and as a result most of the gaming comunity. They are supposed to be their future customers, a lot of them now swearing they will boycott the Rift. Including folk like the creators of Minecraft, etcNow they are snatching people from Valve, the largest PC game platform. Not sure how well ID took Carmak's leaving before that as well.Another thing I was wondering about is, is it possible that Oculus sold to FB because they got scared by Sony's announcement. They probably didn't expect someone else was so close behind. Sony are in a very good position to bring to market a VR kit. They are already selling head mounted displays, the HMZ-T3W, probably the highest resolution produst on the market right now. They have tradition working in optics (own Minolta and part of Zeiss), video, audio and Morpheus will form a great synergy with PS4. They've demoed Morpheus on the PC.
    Reply
  • MrMusAddict
    And hey, knowing it IS a peripheral, there won't be anything obtrusive (cause hey, who would be stupid enough to run ads on a monitor they sell?).
    My Samsung TV must be broke then cuz I've been getting these here commercial ads for Samsung TV's, tablets, and phones since the day I turned the thing on.
    Ah yes, but a Samsung TV isn't a monitor. If they were to try that crap on one of their monitors, while you were gaming or anything else, then there would be a huge outcry. I have confidence that Oculus will not do this for the same reason.
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  • hoofhearted
    I see this as similar to when carrier get cellphones, except that FB now actually owns the hardware. FB will somehow wedge their content into this device, maybe even make the device primarily serve this purpose. All of the people that play Farmville and other social games probably amount to a market that FB has more control over than PC gaming.
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  • hoofhearted
    The $500 I originally planned to buy an Oculus VR Consumer version with this July, I plan to use that money to buy FB stock instead, then sell it in a few months and use that to buy a PS4 and a Morpheus. I picture Mark Z thinking this will make FB like that movie "gamer" where you "are" the Sims.
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  • Immaculate
    I was hoping Valve would make their own. FB buying Oculus made me sad, the thing was hugely crowd funded, then sold. I would love for Valve to have a VR headset of their own, sold separately of steam machines but possibly discounted if you buy a SM. I just really dont want Oculus to be Ads for your face that FB wants it to be. NSA backdoors straight to your face.
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  • everlast66
    The $500 I originally planned to buy an Oculus VR Consumer version with this July, I plan to use that money to buy FB stock instead, then sell it in a few months and use that to buy a PS4 and a Morpheus. I picture Mark Z thinking this will make FB like that movie "gamer" where you "are" the Sims.
    Looking where Facebook share price is going at the moment it might be better to SHORT their share instead. Its gone down from 72 in early March to just under 60.Poor Palmer Luckey already lost some of the value of the $1.6B Facebook shares he got for his company.
    Reply
  • computerguy72
    I got the chance to try the Morpheus and it not nearly as nice as the rift. In fact Sony said they won't release it in 2015 so we're talking 2016 at the earliest. It was an alpha version so they will probably improve the morpheus a lot between now and then but OR is far ahead of them. Also Sony said at the interview Morpheus would be 'less than $1,000' when released so potentially *doublt the price of the rift.
    Reply