It was just over two months ago now that Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey parted ways with Facebook. This week, we’ve finally found out what he’s doing next.
The New York Times cites three sources familiar with the matter in saying that that Luckey has once again started up a new company. Instead of VR, though, this startup is working on surveillance technology targeted for use at countries between borders and military crossings. The unrevealed company has not yet been given a public name.
Luckey’s new tech supposedly uses light detection and ranging (LIDAR), combined with infrared sensors and cameras to monitor people crossing borders. It’s not mentioned if any of this tech might also use 360 degree cameras or other products of the VR industry that he helped rejuvenate over the past five years.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and technology adviser to Donald Trump, is reportedly planning to support the effort via his investment fund, though for now the group remains self-funded by Luckey himself. The Oculus co-founder confirmed the news to the site, stating that the company would “save taxpayers dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safes.”
Luckey left Facebook following reports that he had funded a political smear campaign during the 2016 US election. Following that reveal, he disappeared from the spotlight, only resurfacing to attend the court battle between Oculus and ZeniMax Media, which sued the VR specialist not long after it was purchased by Facebook. The lawsuit found Luckey in breach of a non-disclosure agreement and ordered Oculus to pay ZeniMax $500,000,000. Over a month after the verdict was given, Facebook announced Luckey’s departure with no reference to these prior events.
For Luckey, it’s a return to the startup days similar to those forming Oculus with Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchell and others in 2012. Tellingly, he’s hired Oculus’ first employee, Chirs Dycus, who left Oculus in late May expressing the desire to work in the “start-up mentality of ‘everybody-does-everything'” once more.
It sounds like Luckey is well and truly out of the VR industry, then.