John Carmack says Oculus Rift will probably run Android someday

first_imgA couple of months ago, Oculus Rift hired legendary game coder John Carmack (of Doom and Quake fame) to be their Chief Technology Officer. Oculus is easily one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time, coming out of the gate with a star-studded video that obliterated all public skepticism. Though the product is not yet for sale, and its signature effect cannot even be viewed on a computer screen, it was enough for most people to see trusted industry figures (like Carmack himself) gushing that the VR headset would be the future of gaming. Now, the newly minted CTO is throwing his formidable reputation behind a prediction for the company: it will someday run Android as part of a standalone system.The comment came while Carmack was discussing the device’s release schedule. A new development kit is reportedly on its way, though that will mean little to users who still won’t be able to buy the thing in stores until next year, at least. What came after was of more general interest: “The way I believe it’s going to play out is you will eventually have a head-mounted display that probably runs Android, as a standalone system.”John Carmack.It’s important to note that Carmack is making very general comments about the future of this technology rather than specific plans for the Oculus Rift itself. Still, it speaks to the mindset at a company that seems to have enormous potential for growth and innovation, with a technology that actually seems to offer something novel. Since Oculus Rift is a content delivery technology, the content production is a side of the industry the company wisely seems to want to avoid. That means no mucking about with operating systems — and these days, that means turning to Android.This has been a very successful model for Google, to offer themselves as a free, low-hassle solution to anyone with hardware, and to effectively corner a market through sheer convenience. From the Ouya to Google Glass, the plug-and-play ease of Android means it gets a shot at market dominance before other or proprietary operating systems can even begin to complete. And though it doesn’t use Android, Google’s Chromebook will be very difficult to topple now that it is the de-facto solution for cheap, always-online mobile workstations.Carmack sees the Oculus Rift going in a similar direction, transitioning from being a display for a separate machine to an all-in-one virtual reality headset with an internal system on a chip. In such a future, Android is a logical choice of operating system — as it does for virtually every emerging computer technology. If a new display based on a contact lens, where might the researchers turn to get a prototype up and running quickly? And once they’d put in the effort of getting Android working at all, why turn from the industry standard at any point? Carmack’s comment seems to acknowledge the success of a business strategy Google has spent the past decade perfecting.last_img read more