carbon-teamThose of us wrapped up in the dizzying (sometimes literally) world of virtual reality have been so focussed on following the progress of how the hard, pure technical problems are being solved by those smart eggs at Oculus VR, that we may lose sight of the fact that the Oculus Rift needs to be a real, physical thing—probably kinda soon too.

More than most consumer electronics devices we own, good industrial design for virtual reality devices and in particular VR headsets is of critical importance. The Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 are examples of function over form, people ordering these products are already enthusiasts or developers (or both), they’ll put up with the way the unit looks just as long as it performs. Oculus’ first consumer product will have a much more difficult time with its target demographic—everyone everywhere. Oculus are clearly acutely aware of this and have just announced their acquisition of top design studio Carbon Design Group.

You may not know who they are, but you sure as hell know their designs. In the gaming sphere alone, the firm is responsible for the classic Xbox 360 controller, which won over so many converts to Microsoft’s fold back in 2005. Microsoft’s Kinect, another iconic form which became the fastest selling consumer electronics device ever.

Oculus claim the team have already been collaborating on “multiple unannounced projects” for nearly a year. Which of course throws a hunk of meat to the speculation hounds. It’s fairly certain Carbon’s first and primary brief will be the long awaited Oculus Rift CV1 (consumer version of the Rift), but what else have they already been working on for all that time? Let’s face it, almost certainly peripherals. And, frankly, given the Carbon Design Group’s pedigree in this area, they seem like an incredible choice.

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Also, yet another tantalising view on Oculus’ latest prototypes comes from Carbon’s Creative Director, Peter Bristol:

A few seconds with the latest Oculus prototypes and you know that virtual reality is for real this time. From a design and engineering perspective, building the products that finally deliver consumer virtual reality is one of the most interesting and challenging problem sets ever.

This is an entirely open product category. With consumer VR at its inception, the physical architectures are still unknown — We’re on the cutting edge of defining how virtual reality looks, feels, and functions.

We’re incredibly excited to be part of the team and we’re looking forward to helping design the future

Oculus expect the deal to be ‘done’ by this summer; the cost of the acquisition has not been announced.

Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • David Mulder

    Wow, did not see this one coming. That some pretty big fish they caugh, congratz to them :) I wonder how the guys over at carbon design feel ’bout it, they have always been able to switch from one crazy project to another, now all their projects will be narrowly focused… hope they won’t all leave straight after the CV is released. Oh well~

  • sponge101

    As far as I can tell they’re a privately held company so the price tag of the accusation may or may not be disclosed publicly. Not sure if they’re involved with the kinect 2 because Microsoft decision to drop kinect as an included purchase with the xbone can’t be perceived as a positive reflection.

    Consumers want good looking products. While the dk2 is a step up from an aesthetic standpoint from dk1, I think Oculus decided (and could afford with the support of Facebook) they need outside help in shaping the CV1. I would expect we’re bound to get something very attractive in the coming months.