Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey is offering to ship owners of the Oculus Rift CV1 headset a free repair kit which, he claims, 'can repair the busted audio' - despite no longer working for Oculus VR or owner Facebook.
Palmer Luckey became the face of consumer virtual reality in 2012 when a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Developer Kit - known as the Oculus Rift DK1 - raised nearly $2.5 million in pre-orders. While the road to commercialisation was beset with difficulties, including component shortages and lawsuits targeting Oculus VR's hiring of John Carmack and Luckey himself, the project hit the big time when social media giant Facebook picked the company up for $2 billion in 2014.
While the Oculus project continues without him, Luckey appears to be having a hard time letting go - and is now offering to send Oculus Rift CV1 owners a kit he has developed which 'can repair the busted audio' he claims is common to the commercial release headset design.
'The Oculus Rift CV1 is not perfect. Some issues are the result of carefully considered design tradeoffs, but others are design flaws that did not become apparent as such until well after launch,' Luckey claims in a blog post on the topic. 'Eventual failure of the complex electromechanical assembly that gets audio from the Rift to your ears is one of the latter.
'This issue and the root causes are well documented across the internet, so I will limit this post to information that is actually helpful. In short, long-term use of the Oculus Rift CV1 often leads to failure of important electrical paths in a specific ribbon cable that winds through the strap. For most, the failure is limited to the ground (GND) trace for the right headphone audio module. This sometimes develops into a full audio cutout for both ears, though that is less common. The RR1 repair kit can address both types of failures, and has been designed so the average PC gamer will have no problems with installation.'
Developed, Luckey claims, in less than three hours, the kit is being offered free to all Oculus Rift CV1 owners owing to Oculus VR's unwillingness to address the issue for any headsets out of warranty. 'I am doing this because I feel bad for people who bought a Rift from me and can’t use it properly any more,' claims Luckey. 'Maximising the number of people in the VR ecosystem is also important to me, and the people who have been using their headsets for years on end tend to be among the most engaged, most valuable users who dump tons of money into the content ecosystem. Properly functioning, high quality audio that does not rely on fumbling with third party headphones and cables is an important part of getting users to regularly engage, and the market research bears it out – there is a reason everyone is building audio into their headsets, even companies that initially doubted the importance.'
The kits, which also double as a means of using third-party headphones with the Oculus Rift headset, are available free of charge to anyone who has contacted Oculus VR support and been refused a repair: Simply email the support ticket and a mailing address to Luckey at RiftRepairOne@gmail.com.
January 24 2020 | 12:00