AR and VR on the Mind

It seems that AR and VR are on everyone’s mind these days. The whole area of augmented and virtual reality is of great interest to the business world, as demonstrated by the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook some time ago.

Now Oculus Rift and founder Palmer Luckey has been the target of a lawsuit by Hawaii-based Total Recall Technologies a former employer of Palmer Luckey. The lawsuit has been filed by Total Recall Technologies (TRT) in the Northern District Court of California. It alleges that Palmer Luckey was contracted by TRT to manufacture a 3D virtual reality headset to the specifications of TRT. TRT also filed a patent for such a device in 2011 and submitted information to Palmer Luckey under an understanding of confidentiality and a signed non-disclosure agreement.

TRT also paid for the initial prototype and provided feedback on the functionality under the NDA. The company also alleges that Palmer Luckey used this prototype, developed in 2011, to promote his Kickstarter campaign in early 2012 that started Oculus Rift.

The lawsuit claims breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealings, and constructive fraud. It seeks damage relief in several forms for these alleged actions.

This is of course the view of the plaintiffs and not of Palmer Luckey and Oculus. It would appear that TRT is trying to benefit from the successful development of Oculus, which led to the acquisition by Facebook. Nevertheless, this is a very interesting story and I am sure that this is not the only one in the AR and VR field that has been dominated by universities and small development companies.

AR also appeals to creative people. While we have seen the application of augmented reality displays in Hollywood movies for many years now, the following short film takes a different look at this technology and how it can be used in society. The movie is just under 8 minutes long but you have to watch it to the end to understand the twist of the story. Spoiler alert – yes there is a twist. – NH

Analyst Comment

The short movie does not necessarily exploit the display aspect of the AR environment, but seems to be based on implanted displays or a visual nerve modem. Anyway, there is no visible display near the eye in the movie.

In the beginning, the movie hits all the applications we have been seeing from the current players in one form or another, even the idea of an augmented cooking course is not really new. However the storyline moves on to the effect that AR may have on human interactions. A topic that is at least partly blamed for the Google Glass failure the first time around. In the end it leaves some serious questions on how technologies like AR may influence our culture and social lives. This is a discussion that goes beyond the changes the smartphone has brought to our societies. – NH