The virtual reality company Oculus, newly flush with lots and lots of Facebook cash, just announced that it's acquiring a company called Carbon Design. That company's name may not register with the average person, but if you're a gamer, you know its work well.
As much as Microsoft has a mixed record lately with its phones and laptops, it has done some excellent work with its Xbox products, especially the peripherals. Upon its arrival, CNet called the Xbox 360's wireless controller the "best ever" first-party controller. And it's still beloved by gamers, sculpted to fit but somehow working with almost every size and shape of hand. Who designed that controller? Carbon.
Oculus has worked its way into an extremely high-profile position in the tech world as the leading company in a category of hardware that everyone assumes will be a huge deal very soon. But for all the things the Oculus Rift developer kits do well, it's clear that the industrial design is still a work in progress. It's bulky, heavy, and not terribly comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time.
And that's why this is such a smart move: Oculus, barely two years old, isn't all that experienced with designing hardware for the mass consumer market. But Carbon is. And that could help Oculus avoid the struggles that similar upstarts have had—Pebble, which attracted boatloads of money on Kickstarter and had trouble manufacturing and designing its product, comes to mind.
Carbon crafted a peripheral that feels great, light and sturdy and functional, and that's exactly what Oculus needs right now. Oculus says Carbon has been working with them for nearly a year now, so hopefully we'll see the spoils of this relationship soon.