Creativity 50

Creativity 50 2014: Palmer Luckey

Creator, Oculus Rift

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Palmer Luckey
Palmer Luckey Credit: Jamel Toppin/Forbes Collection/Corbis Outline

Ten years from now, the smartphone could be as passé as the desktop computer is today. If that happens, Palmer Luckey will likely bear responsibility.

In 2011, Mr. Luckey created his first 3-D virtual reality headset. He was 18 years old. Three years later, the next-generation gaming device Mr. Luckey hacked together in his parents' garage has evolved into what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called "a long-term bet on the future of computing." He should know; earlier this year, he bought Oculus VR, the company behind Mr. Luckey's product, for $2 billion.

Mr. Zuckerberg has plans for Oculus to virtually re-create all kinds of real-life experiences, from courtside seats at basketball games to classroom environments to doctor visits. The company is reportedly talking with film studios about creating immersive virtual-reality experiences to complement their upcoming movies.

"In the beginning of Oculus, we thought it would just be for gaming. As it turned out, it got much bigger than we thought," Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe recently said at a conference.

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