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Virtual Reality Gets Thumbs Up with Oculus VR Funding

Virtual Reality Gets Thumbs Up with Oculus VR Funding
By Jennifer LeClaire

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"Virtual reality will be one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century," said Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey. "It has the potential to drastically alter the way we play, communicate, and learn. I think that VR can -- and will -- be as widely used as Facebook or Twitter, and the societal implications will be far greater."
 


Oculus VR, makers of a virtual reality headset for video games, has raised $16 million in a Series A funding round co-led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners, along with Founders Fund and Formation 8.

In case you aren't familiar with the concept, the company's flagship product, Oculus Rift, promises to change the way you think about gaming with a wide field of view, high-resolution display and ultra-low latency. Even with 'next generation' consoles on the horizon, virtual reality still came away with dozens of awards and accolades at E3 and Oculus Rift is on the cutting-edge of that realm.

"I got into VR because it seemed like the obvious path to the best possible gaming experience, but never expected it to take off so quickly," said Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR, in a blog post. "In less than a year, incredible game developers all over the world are building games designed explicitly for virtual reality, and people are beginning to understand that the tech is finally viable."

Changing Virtual Realities

The funding will open new doors for the Irvine, Calif.-based company. Luckey is no stranger to fund-raising. He used Kickstarter to get its first product, Oculus Rift, off the ground. The concept first garnered $2.4 million in support from the likes of Valve, Epic Games and Unity and more than 9,500 other potential customers.

According to the company, Oculus Rift is different from other virtual reality headsets because it offers an immersive gaming experience. Even though this space is still young, the company is already racing to a lead with its approach -- and now it's funding.

"Most products either lack the technical features required for believable immersion or sit at a very high price-point ($20,000+) reserved for the military or scientific community," the company said as part of its Kickstarter campaign. "We set out to change all that with the Rift, which is designed to maximize immersion, comfort, and pure, uninhibited fun, at a price everyone can afford."

Just Like Facebook?

Luckey said the company chose investors that believe in his vision for the future of VR -- venture capitalists who have taken companies from start-up to mass market many times, entrepreneurs who have meaningful experience building hardware and software consumer technology.

Oculus VR plans to use the funding to hire virtual reality talent, experiment and build a prototype with more cutting-edge tech and "build a bad-ass, consumer VR gaming platform."

"Virtual reality will be one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century," Luckey said. "It has the potential to drastically alter the way we play, communicate, and learn. I think that VR can -- and will -- be as widely used as Facebook or Twitter, and the societal implications will be far greater."
 

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