John Carmack recently left the game company he co-founded in 1991 (id Software) and moved to Oculus VR, a company that has recently been making big waves with their virtual reality hardware called the Oculus Rift.
Carmack is now the Chief Technology Officer for Oculus and is one of the lead developers working on getting the Rift onto PCs and new markets. One of those new markets is mobile devices.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe revealed that Carmack was one of the developers working on getting the Rift to work with mobile devices and the company envisions it working on mobile phones and tablets in the near future. Oculus VR is far more in the news today because of Carmack’s involvement and Iribe acknowledges this when he talks about Carmack’s role in the company.
“He and his group are very focused on the mobile side,” Iribe said. “We are throughout the company, but he’s spearheading a lot of that mobile work. We can’t give any details on it, but so far, from the glimpses we’ve seen, we’re going to see another ‘How did he make that work?'”
On how Carmack fits into the company, Iribe likens him to a rockstar working among rockstars. Carmack appears to prefer working in isolation, however, and works remotely with Oculus VR’s teams of engineers in various locations across America.
“We have a team of real senior, rock star engineers,” he added. “Of course, Carmack is at the top. He’s been spearheading a lot of the mobile effort, working with a group of talented engineers on that. He largely works out of the Dallas office. Most of the engineers, though, are in Irvine here, working remotely with John. There’s a handful of other developers in Dallas that John is working with.”
You may be scratching your head about the idea of the Rift working on mobiles, though. Why go through the bother when current devices are too limited in power to allow the Rift to work as its supposed to?
Iribe says that this isn’t going to be much of a problem thanks to the rapid acceleration and advances in mobile computing as well as a shift in the mindset of developers to move towards more efficient computing rather than brute force tactics.
“I’m bullish that VR is going to reignite the PC race and the GPU/CPU race, which has largely plateaued. People aren’t talking about gigahertz or cores anymore. With VR, though, when you put on the headset and it all comes together and works well, you want more,” he said.
“You want higher-resolution environments, even if you’re already running on a high-end computer. We expect to see a huge jump over the next decade in computing performance. What does that mean for mobile, when suddenly we’re at the edge of making this all work in a PC that’s five or 10 times faster than a smartphone or tablet? There’s a big challenge there. That’s the kind of thing that a guy like John Carmack loves to sink his teeth into and pull something off there.”