“Valve Index” VR headset announced to arrive May 2019 right on time to crush the badly designed Oculus Rift S. With quotes from Brendan Iribe, Jason Rubin, and Nate Mitchell.

Valve Index and Valve Knuckles are arriving May 2019. This is the next generation of VR that desktop VR users have been waiting for. This story is also about how Oculus dramatically failed with the new Oculus Rift S. Thank goodness the Valve Index is almost here: The Oculus Rift S ($399) is a terrible product for the price, it’s a backwards step for Oculus, it costs more than the original Oculus Rift ($349) and the quality is significantly worse.

The Rift S is just not a good value compared to the original Rift. A lot of folks at Oculus know this is true, including the Oculus executives pushing the rational for it while looking defensive in video interviews about it. Even the journalists who write about Oculus look they they are holding back from telling you what a shitty product the Oculus Rift S is compared to it’s less expensive but superior predecessor.

Valve Index exhibits their manual adjustable IPD in contrast to the Rift S automatic smaller IPD

In the preview image for the Valve Index that appeared online tonight it appears that Valve has made a point to show that it has a manual IPD adjustment. In strong contrast to the negative stories about Oculus’s automatic IPD with smaller range that accommodates 30 percent fewer people.

Valve Index Knuckles

Valve has released a teaser image on its site called the Valve index. The text reads “Upgrade your experience. May 2019”

Early product Valve index images reported by journalists last year https://imgur.com/a/nYegjQp

If you want to know why Valve Index pushes innovation in Virtual Reality, leading technology with a new vision watch a demo of Valve Index’s revolutionary new XR controller called Valve Knuckles

Valve’s Knuckles are a major example of how Valve is leading by innovating, taking risks to bring new technologies to the market.

Valve Index is bringing us the next generation of VR. To understand why the Valve Index is an upgrade to the next generation of VR you need to watch the video above.

The rest of the article is mostly devoted to trying to explain what went so wrong at Oculus.

So how did this failure by Oculus happen?

Oculus failed with the Rift S because instead of being visionaries like Valve (Valve is pushing the frontier of technology) they (Oculus) decided to act based on their fear (related to their desire to dominate the future market), even going to far as to make a product that mimicks the design of Microsoft’s inside out tracking Windows Mixed Reality headsets, they even went to a maker of a Window’s Mixed Reality headset called Lenovo to “help them” make the new Oculus Rift S. The irony of doing that is echoed in a statement by Jason Rubin himself who said “Apex has been a massive success, The reason we wanted to partner with Respawn is because they are so successful and so fantastic a company, none of that has changed so it doesn’t surprise us that they have had massive hits since we started working with them in fact it would surprise me if every title they brought out wasn’t a massive hit because that’s just how talented they are.” “Absolutely you do not partner with Respawn and then get involved in designing games for respawn” Then why did Oculus let Lenovo get involved with designing the Rift?

Ben Lang asked Jason Rubin if the Rift S is the next step up for existing Rift users

Jason Rubin doesn’t answer with a yes or no answer, he says “it maybe, I mean the good news is we are keeping the same ecosystem so if you have a Rift and “DON’T” want to buy a Rift S that’s fine” HINT HINT

Rubin explains how Rift S, having adopted technology similar to Microsoft Windows Mixed Realities inside out tracking “may be the right device for you” because it reduces the time it takes to set it up. He never said it is the right device for Oculus Rift users to upgrade to, he said “maybe” repeatedly, “maybe” if you for example don’t like setting up external sensors.

Rubin also asked “what is Rift 2” and explained that they do not have a vision for Rift 2, and that they were afraid of selling a system that might be too expensive. Ben Lang interviews Jason Rubin https://youtu.be/S5cuYJOpihw

Nate Mitchel similarly hinted that the Rift was a better product compared to the Rift S when he said this:

“If you are in a very narrow or very wide IPD that is outside the boundaries of what we’re able to accommodate with Rift S then yes you are probably best off getting yourself a Rift for the time being, the other option obvious is Quest which actually does feature mechanical IPD adjust” Nate Mitchel said to Norm from Tested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vtryRHVg_I

We have to look at the past to understand the present and the future. In hindsight it appears that Brendon Iribe left Oculus in part because he may have predicted the backlash that was going to happen with the unveiling of the Oculus Rift S, with the S standing for shitty product strategy.

At the time Techcrunch reported that Brendan was upset about the cancellation of Rift 2.

Folks at Oculus at the time tried to say that Oculus was still committed to desktop VR. Clearly they were not committed enough to innovate like Valve and instead it appears that they wanted to make the desktop Rift a second tier product.

Several twitter users posted image enhancements they did themselves on twitter, some reporting 14 IR Sensors visible and a glass cover. Valve Index is also rumored to have a 135 degree field of view, and resolution similar to Vive Pro.

It’s starting to look like something is going really wrong at Oculus. My conjecture, or hypothesis is that the management has made bad decisions acting on emotions based on fear and scarcity instead of on a vision of success and abundance.

As you can see in interviews with different journalists Oculus executives appear to be on the defensive about just how bad of a strategic decision the Oculus Rift S was. It seems, by the interviews, that even before GDC 2019 they were anticipating a backlash.

So Brendan Iribe quit, Nate Mitchel and Jason Rubin in recent interviews are both hinting that the Oculus Rift S is “maybe” not the headset you want to upgrade to, and even Carmack previously hinted that he might not be staying past the launch of the Quest. Especially after Facebook’s staff rudely cut off John Carmack’s keynote speech at OC5 and then refused to let him be interviewed by reporters in recorded interviews.

Even Palmer Luckey isspeaking up to write about what has gone wrong with the Rift S.

“Oculus Rift S won’t fit 30 percent of users including me, says founder Palmer Luckey”

Why does Rift S look like WMR and WMR now look like Rift S? Why are these folks copying each others designs instead of innovating like Valve? At least HP has a 4k screen now with the HP Reverb, that is innovation, but how about eye tracking and foveated rendering?

The lack of innovation, from fear based thinking in management, with a lack of vision fear based managers just copy copy copy. They don’t push the industry forward. They wait for others to do it.

You can read more about why the Oculus Rift S sucks here:

I tried the Oculus Rift S four times at GDC 2019 and it was a disappointing downgrade to an LED screen, including a slower 80hz screen, the new LED screen immediately created nausea for me, nausea I never had on the original Rift, and a smaller IPD range which alienates 30 percent of users including me. (Immediately after I reported about the feeling of motion sickness I felt on the Oculus Rift S I received an email from Oculus uninviting me from F8 this year. I attended the previous year, and also I attend OC5 and OC4. I love the Oculus Quest so much I created this group, the largest Oculus Quest group and I wrote many positive articles about the Oculus Quest).

Ultimately Hugo Barra the VP of Oculus is responsible for the failed strategy of Oculus Rift S and everything going wrong with Oculus now. Hugo Barra said at Oculus Connect 5 that he was surprised when he took the job and immediately Mark Zuckerberg tasked him with getting a billion users into VR.

Sadly it seems like Hugo Barra decided that he wanted to copy Google’s Cardboard strategy and make the cheapest VR headset possible from a cost perspective. Which is a philosophical change over Oculus’s original mission which was just to build the best VR headset possible.

Now it seems that we have one last hope, it seems that Valve still has the mission to build the best VR headset possible. So I’m looking forward to that.

The reason Oculus Rift S sweet spot $399 VR headset strategy is wrong is NOT only because Google already tried building the cheapest VR headset with Cardboard. It’s also because Apple, Samsung, Sony Playstation VR, and others sell “mainstream” products that cost consumers far more than $399.

Playstation 4 + Playstation VR is $798, and yet PSVR has almost as many VR players as all of desktop VR combined. The Apple iphone, ipad, and Samsung phone are all examples of products that cost way more than $399 that have hit the mass market. Think of your product in terms of it’s VALUE to consumers. You have to deliver value first, and consumers will pay the right price for the right value. Quest has the right value, for years iPad and iPhone, and Samsung’s Gear phones have had the right value. That’s how you get to a billion users in VR, not by cutting costs and downgrading components.

We have 4 million desktop VR users and 4.2 million PSVR users, plus one million active monthly Gear VR users, and VR adoption by US adults has grown to 11%.

Not to mention reports from VRX Intelligence Conference and VRS Greenlight Conference in the last quarter of 2018 revealed that Game Developers are finally making sustainable income from VR.

The VR industry is starting to make it. The VR industry is starting to do well. It’s time to stop being afraid, and to start innovating, it’s time to take risks on product innovation, and this message is aimed squarely at Hugo Barra.

Oculus should be leading the industry, and with Quest they are, but with Rift S they are following Microsoft.

Hugo Barra the VP of VR at Oculus explains how Oculus Insight works.