Now Valve Doesn't Have Michael Abrash OR Jeri Ellsworth

Subject: General Tech, Displays | March 28, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, valve, Oculus, facebook

Today, Oculus VR issued a statement which claims that Michael Abrash has joined their ranks as Chief Scientist. Abrash was hired by Valve in 2011 where he led, and apparently came up with the idea for, their wearable computing initiatives. For a time, he and Jeri Ellsworth were conducting similar projects until she, and many others, were forced out of the company for undisclosed reasons (she was allowed to take her project with her which ultimately became CastAR). While I have yet to see an official announcement claim that Abrash has left Valve, I have serious doubts that he would be employed in both places for any reasonable period of time. With both gone, I wonder about Valve's wearable initaitive going forward.

Abrash at Steam Dev Days

This press statement comes just three days after Facebook announced "definitive" plans to acquire Oculus VR for an equivalent of $2 billion USD (it is twice the company Instragram was). Apparently, the financial stability of Facebook (... deep breath before continuing...) was the catalyst for this decision. VR research is expensive. Abrash is now comfortable working with them, gleefully expending R&D funds, advancing the project without sinking the ship.

And then there's Valve.

On last night's This Week in Computer Hardware (#260), Patrick Norton and I were discussing the Oculus VR acquisition. He claimed that he had serious doubts about whether Valve ever intended to ship a product. So far, the only product available that uses Valve's research is the Oculus Rift DK2. Honestly, while I have not really thought about it until now, it would not be surprising for Valve to contribute to the PC platform itself.

And, hey, at least someone is not afraid of Facebook's ownership.

March 28, 2014 | 07:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Aparently VR hardware, the vision part is a tough nut to crack, and requires funding that companies like Valve, already busy with Steam OS/box and the Steam controller, does not have the financial ability and the staffing to deal with, at the moment. Hopefully the Oculus VR folks, now part of facebook, can still produce hardware that can be used by gamers without any forced FaceBook ecosystem layer built into the hardware/firmware, but who can tell. There are others in the VR market, including Uncle Sam, so expect there to be plenty of VR IP out there from the military contractors, and that will work its way into the VR consumer market. Well the deep pockets now have the Oculus company, but there will be other startups, as the hardware and software is developed in VR, it should be packaged as descrete components that can be purchased by even the hobbyist, just like any other display technology that took big bucks to develop, and is now sold at commodity prices. Scientists have always had to go where the funding is, to continue to work in their field, and Valve needs to be working on a Steam OS for tablets, so this may work out better for Valve to be focused on gaming, and Gaming OSs.

March 31, 2014 | 01:31 PM - Posted by praack

true VR will initially fall in defense hands not gamers, i expect what is out right now has not met the needs for defense purposes. if they can get the some of the issues with long term wear dealt with- then you will see facebook meeting with darpa and oculus will dissapear from site until it is in place for drone missions and such.

April 1, 2014 | 12:30 PM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

I would have no problem using facebook's deep pockets in my product development. Don't see why he should either.

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