It’s hard for me to imagine a hardware startup that is more exciting, more fascinating, and that has more potential to ripple out into a million amazing things than Oculus and their Rift virtual reality headset.
Many of you, it seems, would agree. After weeks of voting, our readers and this community have chosen Oculus VR as the Best Hardware Startup of the year.
As has been said many a time, Hardware is hard. Though the barrier to entry is lower than it’s ever been, the creation of new hardware is still a field that most don’t enter.
It makes sense, then, that the competition here was incredibly fierce. Oculus’ fellow nominees in the category:
- 3D Robotics, a company that wants to make aerial drones accessible to businesses of all sizes.
- SmartThings, which is building a platform to allow any electronic device — be it your toaster or a ceiling fan — to become an Internet-connected “smart device”
- Sonos, the remarkably simple wireless speakers that let you bring sound to every room in your house in just a few taps.
- Square, creators of the dongle that lets anybody — be it your buddy who’s having a garage sale, or a major coffee chain — accept credit card payments in just a few minutes.
While Oculus shipped an early, developers-only version of their headset last year, they’ve yet to release a consumer-ready version (or even announce an official date for one). And that’s just fine. This is a case where “Screw it, Ship It” simply does not apply; where it’s not just acceptable to hold the product close until it’s at a point of perfection, but where that is the only right decision. The reason they haven’t released a retail product is not for lack of talent, interest, or funding. It’s because they must get it right the first time, and they know it.
This concept — virtual reality in the home — is one that science fiction has promised us for decades. The available technology is finally reaching a point where it’s becoming feasible — and when it does, Oculus is positioned to pave the way. Industry legends are leaving their post at companies they created to be a part of it. The most adored company in the gaming world has pledged their R&D resources to them. Developers around the world are already building apps and concept demos for the device, knowing full well that consumers won’t have their hands on it for months to years. If Oculus can’t pull this off, I’m not sure anyone can.
Congratulations, Oculus. We’re all excited for the next few years.