The Immersive Technology Alliance Will Push Gaming Into A New Frontier
Here's Oculus VR's official word on the ITA, courtesy of PR agent Jim Redner:
We never withdrew as we were never a part of it. Know what I mean? Can't withdraw from what you weren't a part of, right.
Here is the official statement: There was confusion on March 13 about whether Oculus was a member of the
Immersive Technology Alliance. We've spoken with the ITA's leadership and
clarified that we are not, and have not been, a member of the the group.
We appreciate the ITA moving so quickly to correct their website and media
to reflect this.
Doesn't really explain too much, does it? Ah, well. Such is life. I suppose.
A group of gaming and technology organizations this week announced their intent to band together in order to build games designed for augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D visualization, and gesture controls. The consortium - known as the Immersive Technology Alliance - is a nonprofit group consisting of some of the largest and best-known developers of AR and VR software and hardware in the field. Well...save for one.
Curiously, Oculus VR - which has already raised $75 million to build the Oculus Rift (I've blogged about it before) - isn't part of the alliance even though it was part of the S3DGA, the group which would eventually evolve into the ITA. No one's quite certain why, but Oculus VR dropped out of the coalition the moment the ITA was formed.
"There was confusion on March 13 about whether Oculus was a member of the Immersive Technology Alliance," explained an Oculus spokesperson, speaking from a prepared statement. "We've spoken with the ITA's leadership and clarified that we are not, and have not been, a member of the group. We appreciate the ITA moving so quickly to correct their website and media to reflect this."
The move by Oculus VR is a confusing one, particularly for the remaining members of the ITA.
"Oculus was a paying member in the non-profit alliance, (Oculus founder) Palmer Luckey had been involved in a private advisory capacity to help transition S3DGA to the newly named ITA (with others from other member companies), and their logo was on the site without question until yesterday," ITA director Neil Schneider said in a Sunday. "They were also informed of the GDC ITA meeting and invited to speak; though we were advised they couldn't do it because of a scheduling conflict, and would try to attend if time permitted. We got our first official notification of them leaving the alliance late in the evening on March 15th. We have since removed Oculus' logos from The ITA website. We'd welcome Oculus' membership as we would anyone else's - and they are encouraged to revisit this when they are ready."
I've reached out to Oculus VR for comment to see if I can shed a bit of light on the organization's decision to back out of the alliance. I'll update this piece if and when I hear back from them. Hopefully we can clear all this confusion up a bit, aye?
Even without Oculus VR on its side, the Immersive Technology Alliance's got some serious power behind it. According to VentureBeat, organizations involved in the collective include Technical Illusions, Avegant, Epson, GameFace Labs, Big Blue Bubble, I'm in VR, YEI Technology, Electronic Arts, Jon Peddie Research, MTBS3DS, Crew Communications, TGC, HDMI, Harvard University, BBB, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Next3D, Digital Extremes, Survios, Vrelia, Virtuix Omni, and Nanoveu. All inarguably big names in their respective fields, and all capable of accomplishing some pretty amazing things, particularly if they work together.
Given that GDC 2014 kicked off today, we're definitely going to be hearing about a few of the ITA's plans for the future. After all, virtual reality's probably one of the biggest things in gaming right now - it goes without saying that it'll come up at least once.
Later in the week, I'll be offering up some coverage of the coolest announcements from the conference. For now, however, I'll sign off, leaving you with one final thought: 2014 might well be the year that virtual reality truly releases to the public. How awesome is that?