Valve's VR man Michael Abrash joins Oculus

Valve's VR man Michael Abrash joins Oculus
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

March 31st 2014 at 9:54AM

'We're on the cusp of what I think is not the next big platform, but rather simply the final platform'

Valve's Michael Abrash has joined Oculus after three and a half years with the company.

He has been appointed by Oculus as chief scientist just days after the firm was bought by Facebook for $2 billion.

Abrash had been leading Valve's own foray into virtual reality development but said the opportunity to join the VR start-up was too great to pass up.

"We're on the cusp of what I think is not the next big platform, but rather simply the final platform – the platform to end all platforms – and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head," he said.

Abrash also lauded Facebook's acquisition of Oculus. He said the purchase meant virtual reality now had the capital behind it to reach its full potential.

"The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Tuesday," said Abrash.

"A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it's engineering, not research; hard engineering, to be sure, but clearly within reach. For example, there are half a dozen things that could be done to display panels that would make them better for VR, none of them pie in the sky. However, it's expensive engineering.

"And, of course, there's also a huge amount of research to do once we reach the limits of current technology, and that's not only expensive, it also requires time and patience – fully tapping the potential of VR will take decades. That's why 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. 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."

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