Mark Zuckerberg just posted to his personal account on Facebook a first-ever peek inside Oculus Research, a lab based in Redmond, Washington dedicated to VR and AR advancements.
The lab is headed up by Michael Abrash, who left Valve Software in 2014 to join Facebook/Oculus and lead this team exploring what’s needed to improve on the state of mixed reality technology.
In fact, the featured photo above shows gloves allowing Zuckerberg to “draw, type on a virtual keyboard, and even shoot webs like Spider Man.” Notably, the researcher’s hardware appears to use fairly expensive Optitrack cameras for the system rather than the buggy Oculus Sensor tracking system the company used for the consumer Rift.
Hand tracking is an incredibly difficult problem to solve in VR given the many quick and precise movements your fingers do that might be hard to spot using a camera, or a pain to calibrate using gloves. Developing software and an inexpensive hardware system that can track these movements accurately on anyone could push VR and AR forward.
Zuckerberg’s caption on this photo reads “When you manufacture really small pieces, you have to keep every surface clean to avoid defects. This clean room filters out particles 1000x smaller than a speck of dust,” giving a hint at the core manufacturing work they are doing to work on new technologies.
“We’ve built labs that let us quickly make new kinds of lenses and devices to push the boundaries of virtual and augmented reality. The includes a Diamond Turning Lab that cuts metal with a gemstone quality diamond, and this 5-axis CNC milling machine,” his caption on the below photo reads.
Abrash has spoken publicly in the past to outline what the future holds for VR, and his work makes him one of the world’s leading experts on the technical constraints facing VR. Though this look inside his lab at Oculus Research is little more than a tease, it does offer us a new perspective on just how serious Facebook is in its ambitions for better VR and AR.