Eric Greenbaum, neuroscientist and patent lawyer, joins me in this episode of the Rev VR Podcast. We discuss the first NYC VR Meetup, and then delve into the dark world of patent law with regards to the recent virtual reality boom.

Eric shares with us the success of the first NYC VR Meetup. It was held at SoTechie Spaces in New York City, and was a great success. VR Developer, James Andrew, attended and showed off the latest version of his game, RiftCopter, which impressed the crowd. The turnout was a bit small (10 people), but he anticipates word of mouth to spread and make the next one a much larger group

“I think we should have some kind of ritual for when someone tries VR for the first time”, suggests Eric. The VR community should think up an initiation process for when a new person dons the Rift and discovers this new exciting world.

Eric also suggests that we develop some best practices for conducting a VR meetup. A document like that would nurture the growth of this type of thing. A listing of these events might also make it easier for folks to find events in their area.

I had to ask how a neuroscientist makes his way into the patent law world. Eric worked in the biotech industry, and loved the idea of being a scientist, but found it frustrating. Doing science R&D naturally exposed him to the area of patent law, and he made the switch.

Patents are a hot point of discussion in the VR world right now and Eric, being an enthusiast, did tons of research on this area and posted it on his blog, Greenbaum Patent Blog. Hundreds, if not thousands of patents, are considered relevant to this area. We discuss the history behind patents, get a quick primer as to how they work, and discuss the numerous big name companies that own them. We discover that there is already one VR patent lawsuit in the works.

A big piece of our discussion is the possibility that “patent wars” might stifle the birth of VR. I present many different scenarios to Eric and he explains the possible outcomes. Will Oculus have their ducks in a row, or will another company swoop in and crush their dreams? Will the technology blogs be overrun with posts about patents in the future, or will everyone play nice in hopes that VR will benefit us all?

Only time will tell.

Thanks to Eric for taking the time to share his expertise with us.

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  • kevin williams

    @Kyle – great presentation as always

    @Eric – great to hear from you, just a quick word of advice, try and use the non allergic wet wipes rather than the alcohol ones – the alcohol ones can eat into the mixed materials of the HMD, and also some people may be allergic to the alcohol variant

  • VRdreamer

    Great talk, awesome podcast, as usual…
    I wonder if ‘Low persistance’ can be patented?
    I believe Valve was the first company to use it and told Oculus about it.
    If that was a patent and no other company could do it, it means that until we have the ability to render a thousand frames per second, all the competitors will have smudge VR experiences, at least for the next 21 years :)

  • WormSlayer

    Example of a tech company destroyed by patent litigation?

  • Michael Lupton

    Great podcast as usual. I really hope patent trolling does not even cause vr to even slip or feel mild discomfort.

  • VRdreamer