Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two technologies that have the potential to revolutionize a number of industries. Most people think of movies and gaming, but there are so many other commercial applications, like remote training, virtual shopping, real estate tours, and virtual vacations, just to name a few. It’s no surprise that many startups are focusing on VR. What may be shocking to some is the fact that Dallas/Fort Worth is a major hotbed of virtual reality innovation.
Dallas is becoming known for its robust startup community. Within that community is a vibrant subset of individuals and companies dedicated to VR. A number of significant enterprise companies provide a strong foundation for VR and AR efforts. Samsung Electronics America Mobile has its headquarters right here in Richardson. Samsung manufactures one of the most well-known and affordable virtual reality headsets, the Samsung Gear VR. Samsung is serious about getting Gear VR units onto consumers’ faces. Customers who buy the new Samsung Galaxy S7 or the S7 Edge are now eligible to receive a free Gear VR.
The biggest name in VR, Oculus, has a Dallas office headed by the company’s Chief Technology Officer, John Carmack. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should. Carmack was the co-founder of id Software and the lead programmer on groundbreaking games like Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D. Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, makes its own headset, the Oculus Rift, and it provides the technology that powers Samsung’s Gear VR.
So what makes Dallas the perfect place to launch a VR company? The community. Dallas has all the right pieces working together, so the sum truly is greater than all the parts. Our universities have award-winning gaming programs that experiment with new methods and applications for VR. The SMU Guildhall has a VR program, as does the University of Texas at Dallas, which has a complete motion capture facility and VR lab. The University of North Texas is looking at how VR games can be used to provide neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation. In addition to higher education VR programs, Dallas has the VR hardware and software development companies like Oculus and Samsung that are continually working to improve and enhance the VR experience. Cutting-edge, beta VR headsets are often made available to local developers for testing. Dallas is home to several startups that produce VR video assets, as well as startups that create complete VR content. Developers who want to get plugged into the VR ecosystem have plenty of options.