Oculus co-founder shipping free Rift repair kits to users with VR headset audio issue

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey isn’t in the VR hardware business these days since getting canned by Facebook (he’s focused on smart border security at his new company Anduril), but he still wants people to like the product he helped design.

A couple of months back he detailed some of the rather intricate mods he had made to the company’s Oculus Go headset to better tailor the headset to his use cases. Today, he’s showcasing a fix for an audio hardware issue in the original Rift that he says is causing problems for some Rift users, cutting off audio in the headset’s right headphone.

Affected users haven’t been left without audio entirely, but the process of using third-party headphones and a super-long audio extension cord to plug into your PC is cumbersome, to say the least. Luckey goes as far as to refer to the issue as a design flaw with the Rift headset; he also notes that Oculus will repair faulty headsets under warranty but that he’s found that it’s also affected plenty of out-of-warranty Rift owners.

Over the past few weeks Luckey says he’s been buying from users headsets that had audio issues to get a full overview of the problem, and now he’s figured out a fix. Luckey writes on his blog that he’ll ship a free repair kit to any users that have reported their issue. You can check out his post linked above for full details.

Luckey doesn’t work at Facebook anymore, so why is he even bothering himself with this? From his blog post, it seems to be a little bit of founder’s guilt.

“The Oculus Rift CV1 is not perfect. Some issues are the result of carefully considered design tradeoffs, but others are design flaws that did not become apparent as such until well after launch,” Luckey writes. “I am doing this because I feel bad for people who bought a Rift from me and can’t use it properly anymore.”

It’s very cool to see Luckey continue to take ownership of a product that he helped create. Facebook is preparing to release an update to the Rift this year, but for users that bet on VR’s first-generation and are suffering from some audio issues it seems their headsets can keep plugging along with a little bit of tinkering.

TCL leaks foretell a weird future for foldable phones

Foldables are going to get weird. And I’m here for it. Just check out these leaked TCL renders from CNET. All manner of strange and wonderful folding devices — two tablets and three smartphones, including one that flips all the way around into a Futurama-style bracelet. There are renders for tablets and phones that fold both in and out.

Granted, few if any will actually come to fruition, but if this first wave of foldables opens up smartphone design in new and interesting ways like these, the industry will be all the better for it. Of course, we’re still in the early stages of all of this — and the first wave of foldables have yet to prove themselves of interest to the smartphone-buying audience beyond simple novelties.

We’ll be seeing a fair bit more of the space week at Mobile World Congress, along with Wednesday’s Samsung event, which is expected to give us another peek at the upcoming Galaxy foldable. For now, however, the Royale FlexPai is the only device that’s actually come to market, and that one still feels like little more than a developer product.

However, while TCL’s not a household name here in the space, the Chinese company certainly has experience in the display department, both through its TV business of the same name and smartphone brands like Alcatel, Palm and BlackBerry.

These sorts of renders are probably pretty standard for all companies currently experimenting with a flexible form factor. If there’s one thing all of the announced devices have proven, it’s that the industry is still a ways away from settling on a consistent design language for these devices. And it’s certainly possible that the industry will never settle on a consistent form factor.