Oculus warns rivals not to 'poison the well' with VR kit that makes us sick

Oculus founder Brendan Iribe says he showed Oculus Rift to Sony, and challenged rivals to "make yours the same or better."

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Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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A gamer tries out the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Dan R. Krauss/Getty Images

DUBLIN -- The virtual reality industry is "anybody's game", according to one of the people behind Oculus Rift -- but Oculus founder Brendan Iribe warns rival gaming giants not to "poison the well" by bringing out VR devices that aren't ready.

Speaking at technology conference Web Summit here today, Iribe laid out some of his hopes and concerns for virtual reality. Oculus has been one of the most high-profile names in the renewed wave of interest in the nascent technology since a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign for a virtual reality headset in 2012. The company was acquired by Facebook in a $2 billion deal earlier this year.

But despite bringing VR back into the headlines in a bigger way than ever since the '90s, Oculus has yet to actually bring a device to market. Iribe insists the first consumer product is a matter of months away, though he admits that's "many" months. Meanwhile, rivals are circling, such as Sony's Project Morpheus.

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Iribe is worried that this race could see some companies rush to be first to market with a product that hasn't solved the potential problems of virtual reality. If new devices are released that cause motion sickness or other issues, Iribe is concerned the public will write off VR as a whole before it's even begun.

"We're a little worried about some of the bigger companies putting out a product that isn't ready," says Iribe. Which is why he invited representatives of Sony to come and look at Oculus, challenging them: "Come see this and makes sure yours is as good or close. Don't poison the well."

The next challenge for Oculus, according to Iribe, is adding perception of your body to your virtual reality as you move through a game or other experience, so that as well as looking around inside the game you can also see your hands and body to interact with the environment. They're not planning "Lawnmower Man" wetsuit-style outfits; instead, Iribe wants to end up with a headset the size of a pair of sunglasses.

That's looking far ahead, however; in the meantime, Oculus has to get something into shops. With research and development continuing, Iribe says the company is "very close" but there is still "a ways to go."