Being Microsoft: Redmond Sinks Teeth into Tasty VR Pie, Patents for Wearable Computing Safe in Pocket


GDC 2014 brought a new entrant in virtual reality headsets in the name of Project Morpheus. Oculus VR had up to that point received some good support from game developers. As they had more or less dominated the VR platform for a while, Oculus was seen to have found its match in Sony’s prototype headset. Facebook in all their meddling pomposity decided to buy out the Oculus VR team. A lot of hair pulling and teeth gnashing followed that event but with big money, Oculus can now sincerely commit to bringing VR to the consumer market.

Now the coolest party in tech can’t leave Microsoft behind. After all, the man Zuckerberg may be right after all by framing VR is the platform of the future. In that vein, Microsoft is clipping at his heels through their recent acquisition of wearable tech patents. This intellectual property has been in Microsoft’s cross-hairs from as far back as last year. Originally, the Seattle-based company would have acquired Osterhout Design Group for $200 million. Negotiations brought this down to between $100 million and $150 million for ODG’s over 80 patents on wearable computing. Head mounted displays make up a huge part of Microsoft’s newly acquired IP.
ODG stays out of the lime light despite having an impressive portfolio of inventions and innovative products. The outfit mostly builds solutions for government agencies and the military. Ralph Osterhout, founder of the company acknowledges the gains achieved by Oculus Rift, however his critique places the headset at a disadvantage. He views the Rift as a hardcore gamer device that needs some work before it gets to the mass market.

Microsoft’s deal with ODG closed in November. ODG remains separate from Microsoft and the company is already working on more technologies focused on head mounted displays – with the IP fully owned by ODG. As for Microsoft, a leaked Xbox roadmap from way back in 2012 suggests the software company has a mind to magic some augmented reality glasses.

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