In 2017, the virtual reality revolution was gaining momentum, and I was intrigued by the idea of immersion. Being a gamer who grew up playing every type of video game from Nintendo to Xbox to PC, I loved the idea of being able to escape into imaginary worlds and stories. The Oculus Rift was promising this, so I started attending VR meet ups in San Francisco.
One night, I was at a meet-up trying out a very simple 360 video experience on the top of Mount Everest. It happened that someone at the meet-up opened the door to the outside, and a cool breeze blew over my body. Being surrounded by jagged rocks and snow, I was enraptured by the experience. With a heightened sense of my surroundings, this simple experience stood out to me, and I wanted more. I felt like I was transported there.
Being an engineer by training, I wanted to recreate that experience for others.
I began tinkering in my garage and the local machine shop, building numerous prototypes that were impractical and unviable. I did not care. I finally decided on a minimal feature set and built a Frankenstein of a prototype and brought it to Game Developer Conference in San Francisco.
My hope was that I would persuade developers to integrate Vortx into their games. After the show, Vortx won Tom’s Guide’s Best VR Hardware of the show, which was a huge win, but I quickly realized the product was dead-in-the-water. As many hardware products that had come before it, developer integration was so fundamentally important that no hardware would ever survive without content.
That was when I met Matt Gilg, our Head of Software. I had this wild idea of being able to circumvent the developer integrations by using the information that developers already gave us through interpreting the video and audio of the game in real time. I asked Matt if it could be done, and he said yes.
This eventual discovery has evolved into what Vortx is today - a complex algorithm with precise triggering. Armed with a more refined algorithm and hardware design, we took Vortx to CES with one of our preproduction prototypes and demoed in Eureka Park. We were nominated as a finalist for Best Gaming Product of the show by Engadget.
Now as we gear up for launch, after a few more hardware refinements and some spins on our algorithm, I anxiously look forward to getting Vortx into your hands and sharing some of the magic that we have created.