Jack McCauley’s research lab in Livermore, California, is hallowed ground for any virtual reality fan.
McCauley was a founding engineer at Oculus VR, the virtual reality headset maker that Facebook bought for about $US2 billion last year. He told Business Insider that the team filmed Rift’s original Kickstarter video in his facility and designed much of its first development kit, DK1, there, too.
After hustling away on the headset for about two years, McCauley left Oculus shortly after the acquisition, but continues to work on new virtual reality projects in his lab today.
Take a look at these early Oculus pics, and learn more about what McCauley’s doing now:
The Oculus Rift team filmed much of the video for its blockbuster Kickstarter campaign in McCauley's Lab.
Here they are watching the finished video as the project racked up cash. In this picture it's at nearly $1 million from 3,905 contributors, and would eventually swell to $2.4 million from 9,522 of them.
Once Oculus soared past its Kickstarter goal, it was really time to drill down. Here's McCauley and Oculus' current VP of product, Nate Mitchell, with the owner of the factory that made the first prototype.
To achieve accurate head tracking, the first model of the Oculus headset had an orientation sensor that included a gyroscope. 'You know what we used to calibrate the gyros?' McCauley asks. 'A turntable. It turns out that a record player has very precise velocity control. It was more stable than a commercially available calibration instrument.'
Much of the headset's early development happened in China. Oculus office manager Rita Chen stands with McCauley (third from left) and the Oculus China team.
McCauley remembers his trips to Asia as incredibly exciting, with a lot of hard work (and some hard partying mixed in for good measure).
Oculus hired John Carmack, the co-creator of the insanely popular game Doom, to be its chief technology officer in 2013.
Here's McCauley ready to go into the 'clean room' in the optics lab in China that made the lenses for Oculus' second development kit, the DK2.
'It's amazing how much buzz there is around virtual reality now,' he said. 'I'm so fortunate that I'm still working on it, and that I was involved at Oculus. Everyone there worked really, really hard.'
Here's McCauley testing out Oculus competitor, the HTC Vive. 'It was fantastic,' he says. 'I was blown away.' Although McCauley hasn't tested out the latest version of the Oculus yet, he believes that it and the Vive are the frontrunners in virtual reality...
That's why he continues to tinker with different VR-related ideas in his lab. He believes there's a better, cheaper, more effective way for virtual reality headsets to handle tracking.
'I'm still working on VR and I can't stop,' he says. 'I'm trying to find ways to improve current designs.'
Before Oculus, McCauley was the chief engineer on the GuitarHero video game. Those music roots are very evident in the foyer of his lab.
We'd love to know more about what it's like inside Oculus -- in the past, and now. Reach out to [email protected] with stories and tips.
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