A myriad of recent job postings for positions at Oculus seem to confirm a suspicion that many industry analysts have had for some time now: the Oculus Rift 2 is currently in active development.
This is not an official name, but the postings – all of which went live after the Oculus Rift’s official launch on March 28 – indicate strongly that a new, and more advanced, platform is being worked on deep within the bowls of Facebook’s mysterious Menlo Park offices.
Palmer Luckey confirmed the theoretical existence of Rift 2 last year. However, these job postings are the first pieces of concrete evidence to surface and support this assertion.
The first open position that seems to indicate a next-generation VR headset is being worked on by Oculus is for a graphics researcher. Posted just 3 days ago, the posting calls for a candidate that can build a new forward-facing system, not simply update an existing one. According to the job description:
As a Graphics Researcher, you’ll lead cutting-edge research projects and be part of a multi-disciplinary team working to usher in the next era of human-computer interaction. The ideal candidate will have a passion for technology and the vision to help drive our future graphics roadmap.
- Lead graphics research projects that span cross-functional teams
- Develop algorithms and other technologies for driving current and future head mounted displays under hard real-time constraints.
- Collaborate with other researchers and engineers to develop concepts that advance the entire product pipeline
- Attend computer graphics conferences, and publish and present papers in international conferences and journals
- PhD in computer graphics or computer science
- Proficient in advanced image synthesis, including light transport, sampling and reconstruction
- Understanding of real-time computer graphics, including GPU hardware, modern APIs, and the graphics pipeline
- 3+ years programming/implementing in C++ plus at least one of the following: CUDA, DirectCompute, ISPC, or OpenCL. FPGA experience is a plus.
- Software or hardware systems background is a plus.
- Ability to operate effectively and autonomously, with only high-level direction
- Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to collaborate well and work across teams.
Whoever Oculus ends up hiring for this job will be joining the team far too late to be bringing his or her significant hardware experience to bear upon the already released Oculus CV1. The posting also specifically states that the successful candidate will be working to enhance “current and future” VR headsets. The current headset would be the CV1, but future pieces of hardware could be either the Rift 2 or a followup to the Samsung GearVR. Additional job postings strongly support this new device being the former and not the latter.
In addition to a graphics engineer, the company also posted a recent opening for an electrical engineer as well. The language in this position’s job description is even more indicative of Oculus’ future headset plans:
As an electrical engineer at Oculus Research, you will design, build, and test prototype electrical systems for future consumer virtual reality experiences. You will become part of a team exploring new concepts through fast iterative prototyping. The teams will dynamically change depending on the problem and potentially include electrical, mechanical, optical, firmware, software, and research experts. We want people who: work well in teams, can brainstorm big ideas, work in new technology areas, able to drive a concept into a prototype, and can envision how a prototype could transition into a high-volume consumer product.
- Design and prototyping of electrical systems in virtual reality experiments.
- Collaborate in a team environment across engineering disciplines.
- Design, simulate, test, characterize and integrate digital and analog circuits.
- Build schematics, complete board layouts, assemble, test, debug, and integrate designs into electro-mechanical systems.
- Specify components and produce SoWs for ASIC partners
- BS degree or above in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering, or equivalent experience
- 5+ years of experience in digital and analog electrical system design
- 5+ years of experience with schematic and board design using Altium or equivalent
- Use of oscilloscopes, high speed digital test equipment, logic analyzers, and function generators
- Digital experience: high speed differential circuits, Verilog, firmware, and programmable logic based development. DSP, and communications. Real-time image processing, display engineering, and camera module experience is a plus.
- Analog experience: instrumentation, circuit simulation using SPICE or equivalent, (biological) sensor systems, and analog to digital conversion.
Just like the graphics engineer, this solicitation also went up well after the CV1’s official commercial release. The timing here means that the “future consumer virtual reality experiences” mentioned in the job description would have to mean something other than the Rift.
A third job posting may provide some insight as to the new features Oculus will be focusing on for its next VR platform. This posting calls for an optical engineer with a specialty in diffractive optics:
Oculus VR is looking for an experienced and highly self-motivated optical engineer to provide rapid prototyping, characterization and DFM of diffractive optics and imaging systems. The successful candidate will support modeling, designs for prototyping and fabrication. This person will support both in-house and external prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and work with both internal and external cross-functional teams to integrate relevant theory, compile requirements, coordinate design reviews, transfer design to manufacturing, validate results by specifying testing parameters and methodologies and implement the mass-production processes as required.
- Work with an optical engineering and vision team to provide rapid prototyping and characterization of diffractive optics and imaging systems
- Support modeling and designs for prototyping and fabrication/manufacturing
- Utilize software tools to model systems with both geometric and diffractive optical characteristics
- Innovate metrology techniques and develop robust predictive models for diffractive and imaging optical systems.
- Provide metrology information and instructions to internal and/or external design, prototyping and manufacturing groups
- Provide support for in-house and external prototyping and manufacturing efforts
- Work with technicians and other engineers to integrate relevant theory, compile requirements, coordinate design reviews, transfer data to manufacturing and validate results by specifying testing parameters and methodologies
- Ownership of offshore component manufacturing support.
- BS degree in Optical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics or a related technical discipline, MS preferred
- 6+ years of experience as an optical engineer working on camera and diffractive optics systems integration for consumer electronics products
- 6+ years of experience in optical simulation, metrology, testing and lab work to verify component, assembly and system level performance
- Proficiency with modeling software packages like VirtualLab, CODE V, FRED, GSolver and Zemax
- Experience with high-volume consumer electronics manufacturing, partnering with Asia-based suppliers and contract manufacturers
- Excellent communication skills as well as the ability to work cross-functionally with the team
- Ability to travel both domestically and internationally (up to 15%)
- Experience and/or knowledge in one or more areas listed below is a plus:
- Illumination systems design for HID, LED & Laser light sources.
- Diffractive optical element design for beam shaping, homogenization and general illumination.
- Opto-mechanical system integration.
- Optical materials.
- Micro-display devices.
- Polarization control.
“Diffractive optics” is an emerging buzzword within the VR industry. The scientific definition for them, according to RPC Photonics is as follows:
“Diffractive elements are thin phase elements that operate by means of interference and diffraction to produce arbitrary distributions of light or to aid in the design of optical systems.”
For those of us that specifically majored in history because science was too hard, a simpler definition may be required.
What this is essentially saying is that diffractive optics are lenses of a specific composition that are designed to manipulate light in a very intentional way. The most important element of a VR headset may just be the light manipulating lenses that provide depth and scale to the 2D images of the displays. It makes since then that Oculus would want to hire an expert in cutting edge lens tech to work on its followup headset to the Rift.
Cutting edge lens technology isn’t the only focus area that Oculus seems to be poking around for its HMD sequel. Computer vision is another area of intense focus for the VR industry that the company seems to be doubling down on as indicated by a fourth job solicitation – this time for a software engineer.
As an experienced software engineer at Oculus, you’ll be architecting and building the core tech that powers the Rift. You’ll help deliver key products and systems that power Oculus’ computer vision work. The ideal candidate is an experienced software engineer with a passion for virtual reality.
- Help deliver an exceptional virtual reality experience by improving performance and quality of our computer vision software.
- Implement efficient data structures to enable faster image processing.
- Optimize Oculus’ tracking and machine learning software.
- Support the development of Hardware and Software to enable better sensing of the user and her environment.
- Maintain high coding standards and cross-functional interaction with other Oculus teams.
- Bachelor’s degree or more in Computer Science, Mathematics, or related field preferred
- Expertise in systems development
- 5+ years of experience developing low-level systems in C++, C
- SDK experience a plu
- Experience with hardware, drivers, or firmware
The fifth and final job posting that Oculus has released since launching the Rift is perhaps the most damning as far as proving the active development of a new headset is concerned. This posting, for an optical scientist, is purely research and future focused with a heavy emphasis on theoretical design and prototyping:
Oculus is a world leader in the design of virtual reality systems. We are currently seeking innovative researchers with a passion for technology to develop next generation near to eye display and imaging systems at our research location in Redmond WA. Primary responsibility is developing optics and related technologies as technology building blocks to enable next generation head mounted display architectures.
- Positions require a combination of education and experience in the research and development of advanced optical components or systems including but not limited to imaging and display systems.
- The goal of this position is to explore optical requirements to create new virtual experiences and advance technologies necessary to create product architectures that can deliver these requirements
- All members will be expected to support modeling and experimentation with some having more an emphasis in one or the other
- All will be expected to collaborate with other researchers and engineers to develop concepts that advance the entire product pipeline (hardware, middleware, and applications)
- MS or PhD in optical sciences, physics, electrical engineering or related degree
- Knowledge of a broad range of optics including imaging, illumination, radiometry and photometry, physical and geometric optics, statistics, and polarization
- Specialized understanding of sources (lasers and LED’s), spatial light modulators, diffractive optics, optical materials, and thin films optics
- Prefer some knowledge and experience with color science, colorimetry, and visual optics
- Proficiency in one or more optical design tools such as Zemax, FRED, or ASAP
- Familiarity with optical metrology tools such as interferometry, image quality testing, etc
- Prefer but not required some background in development of test automation using Labview, Matlab, Mathamatica or another program which enables custom analysis and automation of complex metrology
- Excellent interpersonal skills – cross-group and cross-culture collaboration.
- Proven track record of achieving significant results
- A documented history of increasing responsibilities and decision-making experience
- Strong desire to work on developing technologies that result revolutionary consumer impact
- Ability to obtain work authorization in the United States in 2016
The second responsibility listed for this job states that, “The goal of this position is to explore optical requirements to create new virtual experiences and advance technologies necessary to create product architectures that can deliver these requirements.”
This leaves little room for doubt that Oculus is currently in the process of allocating serious time, money, and manpower solely to the development of its next VR headset.
Luckey’s comments in January of last year may have alluded Rift 2.0’s existence, but this could have been anything from a few theoretical brainstorming sessions, to a small skeleton crew of employees working on next gen ideas and systems.
These job postings, however, are hard evidence that Oculus is a company determined to transition from the past to the future. Rift 2.0 – or whatever it will be called – certainly seems to be on its way.
We will bring you more details on Rift 2.0 as soon as they become available.