Rebuff Reality launched their Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday for VR Ears, the world’s first high performance audio solution for all major VR headsets. I had the pleasure of trying this product at CES in January and I was so impressed that the VR Ears have now become my first Kickstarter investment!
“Rebuff Reality is the brain child of Joe [Sciacchetano], Founder and CEO,” stated Jonny Anderson, VP of Business Development, in a recent interview. “Joe has an extensive background in game investment for bigger companies, but more importantly, he has been in and out of China for the past 10 years. Only people who have lived and worked in China truly understand what it takes to see a product made from the ground up in a scalable way.”
As a hardcore gamer, Sciacchetano wanted to contribute to the industry. Several years ago he created a dancing game and although it didn’t find traction, the product he designed at the same time did.
Trackstrap became a popular product and even gained the attention of HTC Vive, who still sells the product on their website. The straps combine with VIVE Trackers and attach to a player’s waist and feet to achieve full body tracking.
As VR has grown over the past several years, so has the popularity of VR accessories. Trackstrap is now one of the most commonly sold VR accessories and following his success with the product, Sciacchetano invested a large portion of his profits into Rebuff Reality. Now he’s creating accessories for VR enthusiasts and esports players.
As I was strolling through the exhibits at CES, I happened to notice the Rebuff Reality booth and the VR Ears attached to an Oculus Quest headset. Although I love my Quest, the speakers leave a bit to be desired and I’m always ready to check out new VR accessories anyway.
Several things about the VR Ears greatly pleased me. First, they didn’t actually touch my ears. Headphones make my head hurt and earbuds make my ears hurt. VR Ears were fantastic because they weren’t touching my head at all.
In addition, the sound was impeccable. We were in the middle of noisy exhibits at CES and I had no difficulty engaging in the game and hearing the clear sound from the off-ear speakers designed to take advantage of the outer ear for pinpoint positional audio.
I actually returned to the booth several times to chat with the team and check out the products again. I quickly became convinced of the usefulness of the Rebuff Reality accessories for VR esports athletes and VR fitness fans.
The VR Shell is a hexagonal hardened poly-carbonate membrane that covers the Oculus Quest and protects it from damage without compromising performance. Since I don’t think VR esports competitions on the Quest will be too far in the future, I was thinking about how useful such a product would be for active VR games like Beat Saber, Cloudhead Games’ Pistol Whip, or Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena.
VR Power is another great product for VR esports players and fitness fanatics because we’re just crazy enough to play for hours at a time. I don’t mean two hours. I literally mean seven or eight hours or more. The longest I’ve played in one stretch was 32 hours, but I didn’t have a Quest then so I was tethered to the PC with my Rift. With the VR Power, users can stay in their immersive environments for up to eight hours and since it’s attached to the back of the headset, it provides a nice counter-balance weight for the front-heavy Quest.
Anderson took note of my interest in the products and I explained to him that I help build VR communities and specifically I work with the VR esports developers, players, teams, leagues, etc. We also talked about my favorite game, Echo Arena, and what companies can do to support growth of VR esports.
“We want to support people like this,” said Anderson, “who are doing these projects out of passion for the games they play, and the community they support.”
This commitment to supporting VR community led the Rebuff Reality team to sponsor the VR Master League this spring with cash prizes and gift cards for the spring championship series in Downpour Interactive’s Onward, Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena, and davevillz’ Pavlov.
“We want to become something like the Razer of VR,” Anderson explained,” a company that sponsors the best performers and competitors that drive the community forward.”
On April 21, the Kickstarter campaign for VR Ears was launched at 1:00 pm EDT. The goal was $30,000 and they’ve already reached over $56,000 less than 12 hours later.
Anderson shared with me his excitement about working for a company dedicated to making the best products as well as goals the company had set.
“Our hopes for this campaign are that we can produce a great number of the VR Ears for all those players who can’t afford to buy a beefed up computer and the Index, for example,” stated Anderson. “We want as many people as possible immersed in their games. Just like the Trackstrap enabled people to dance, we want people to have an audio experience that matches their passion. We want the accessories to become as good as those that already exist in other industries.”
As a child, Anderson played all sorts of outdoor sports in the cold north area of Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up going ice fishing, playing hockey, hiking the north shore, Nordic skiing, and doing other outdoor activities. When he was indoors, he enjoyed the creative musical talents passed on to him by his mother, a musician and librarian. Throughout it all, his parents encouraged him to read and so they introduced him to fantasy and science fiction. Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov influenced his ideas from an early age so he was ready for concepts like immersive environments.
“When the Oculus Rift Kickstarter went live, and our whole group of friends saw Palmer Luckey introducing the product,” says Anderson, “we all lost our minds. Finally it was here.”
The friends pooled their money and contributed to invest in the Kickstarter.
“Years later, I find myself editing the VR Ears Video. The DNA is there.”