Oculus VR, Facebook’s virtual reality gaming headset company, has announced that it has acquired Carbon Design. Based in Seattle, Washington, Carbon Design is known for its exquisite consumer electronics designs and product engineering. The Carbon Design team will operate from its studio in Seattle and work closely with the Oculus R&D team in Redmond, Washington following the acquisition. The deal is expected to close in the summer.
Carbon designed numerous devices like the Xbox 360 controller, a racing wheel controller and the original Microsoft Kinect. Oculus VR and Carbon Design have been collaborating for more than a year on multiple unannounced projects. Peter Bristol, the creative director of Carbon, is excited to join Oculus because he believes that virtual reality is open to innovation.
“This is an entirely open product category,” said Bristol in a blog post. “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.”
Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in March. In the acquisition announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Oculus will become a platform for many other experiences aside from gaming. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” said Zuckerberg in a Facebook status about the acquisition.
Oculus VR said that the Facebook deal “supercharged” its recruiting efforts. John Carmack, a legendary game programmer, joined Oculus as chief technology officer in August. Carmack co-founded id Software and served as the lead programmer for games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and the Quake series. Carmack was the first developer to integrate the Oculus Rift into a game when the hardware was still only a hand-held prototype without a software development kit (SDK). This month, Oculus also hired Jason Rubin, who is known for his work on the Crash Bandicoot series. Oculus recently brought in talent from Valve, Google[x], ARM, EA, Bungie and Nvidia.
Oculus VR was founded by 21-year-old Palmer Luckey, who was named in FORBES’ 30 Under 30. Luckey started to develop his own head-mounted VR display when he was in high school. Luckey was in college when he created the first prototype of the Oculus Rift headset. Oculus raised $2.4 million in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign and raised over $90 million from venture capitalists before the acquisition.
In a surprise move, Sony announced Project Morpheus at the 2014 Game Developers Conference a few months ago. Project Morpheus competes head-to-head with the Oculus Rift and has already received many positive reviews. There are rumors that Microsoft and Samsung are going to launch virtual reality headsets in the near future, which is why Oculus VR will have to become even more aggressive. Hiring the team that designed the Kinect and Xbox 360 controller could be a step in the right direction.
Founded 20 years ago, Carbon Design has a history of taking products from concept to completion. In the past decade, Carbon’s collaborations have been recognized with over fifty awards. The terms of Oculus’ acquisition of Carbon Design were undisclosed.