Long before Oculus Rift became the juggernaut of virtual reality it is now, founder Palmer Luckey was just an awkward teenage entrepreneur crafting handmade VR headsets in his parent’s garage. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and four years of research, Oculus was purchased by one of the most powerful tech companies in the world – Facebook – for over US$3 billion.
Not too shabby for a guy who’s first prototype was described as “dangling wires and circuit boards and duct tape and hot glue all over the place”.
Inspired by the DIY Oculus origin-story, three French teens, along with their teacher, just built their own immersive VR headset for only $100.
Called Relativ, the concept is simple: “We couldn’t afford an Oculus so we built one,” says 16-year-old founding member Maxime Coutté.
After learning how to code and building a very basic 8-bit OS from scratch, Coutté reached out to Oussama Ammar, one of the co-founders at The Family (a Paris-based startup incubator). Ammar introduced Coutté to the chief architect at Oculus, Atman Brinstock who offered up this precious bit of advice: make it all open source.
Armed with open source, Coutée and team developed their first fully hackable VR headset. With an inexpensive micro-controller board, cheap lenses, an LCD screen, and a bargain accelerator/gyro combo chip powered by their open source SDK, FastVR, they were up running in fully immersive VR for 1/5 the cost of an Oculus Rift.
Proof positive that great things come to those who build it!