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Palmer Luckey Says He Will Announce That He's Working On A New Headset Later This Month

Palmer Luckey Says He Will Announce That He's Working On A New Headset Later This Month

Palmer Luckey says he will announce that he's working on a new headset at AWE 2024, which is taking place June 18-20.

It comes as Luckey's new company ModRetro just announced and opened preorders for Chromatic, a $200 handheld that can play Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges on a display with the same resolution and colors as the original consoles for a pixel-perfect and color-accurate experience.

VR enthusiast and YouTuber Brad Lynch responded to the Chromatic announcement on X by saying "Even Palmer would rather release a handheld than a VR HMD", referencing Valve releasing Steam Deck instead of an Index successor or new standalone headset (Index is now five years old). But Luckey replied to Lynch to say "I am going to be announcing the fact that I am working on a new HMD at AWE!".

If you're somehow unaware, Luckey founded Oculus VR in 2012 to launch the Kickstarter campaign that would eventually lead to the consumer Oculus Rift in 2016, essentially reviving VR from the dead. Luckey was the public face of Oculus until 2017 when he was fired by Facebook, the company he sold Oculus to for over $2 billion in 2014. Luckey went on to co-found defense company Anduril Industries, recently valued at $12.5 billion.

In his blog post announcing the Chromatic handheld, Luckey claims he would have open-sourced the consumer Oculus Rift had he not been fired before he could. Oculus previously open-sourced the two Rift development kits.

In 2018 Luckey modified an Oculus Go headset to make it all-black, which is important on the worn side to reduce internal reflections that can be seen as "god rays" in the lenses. He also removed the battery from the front to instead mount it externally on top of the head strap, and replaced the cooling system with a lighter alternative of aluminum fins and a small micro-blower.

In 2022 Luckey modified a Meta Quest Pro to build a one-off headset he said kills the wearer for real if they die in a VR game, inspired by the anime series Sword Art Online. Luckey described the device as a "piece of office art" and "a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design".

Palmer Luckey Gave His Take On Quest Pro And Vision Pro
Palmer Luckey gave his take on Meta Quest Pro and Apple Vision Pro and explained what he would do differently if still at Oculus:

In a podcast appearance last year Luckey praised Apple's strategy with Vision Pro as "going after the exact right segment of the market that Apple should be going after", and said he thought Meta abandoned the high-end of the market too quickly, not giving the technology enough time to progress through the usual adoption cycle.

"There's been this consistent push at Facebook to make VR something that everybody is interested in using, but I think it's come somewhat prematurely. I wrote a blog post years ago called Free Isn't Cheap Enough and in it I lay out an argument against the idea that the thing holding VR back is cost."

"There was a thing that I said right before I left. I pointed out in the marketing and targeting discussions, there was too much Starbucks and not enough Mountain Dew.

He also described Quest Pro as a directionally good step poorly executed, pointing out that Meta completely failed to capitalize on shipping the first consumer standalone with eye tracking integrated.

We've reached out to Luckey for any specific details or teases about the headset he plans to announce at AWE. Given the unconventional nature of Luckey's existing hardware efforts, from the Oculus Rift to handheld retro consoles and autonomous weapons systems, there's a lot of space for speculation about what direction this headset might take. We'll update this article if we hear back from Luckey.

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