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Oculus buys RakNet, whose engine revved up 'Minecraft,' 'Lego Universe'

Oculus buys RakNet, whose engine revved up 'Minecraft,' 'Lego Universe'

The company will also hold its first developers conference in late September

At SXSW this year, HBO used the Oculus Rift to give people virtual tours of Game of Thrones' Westeros

At SXSW this year, HBO used the Oculus Rift to give people virtual tours of Game of Thrones' Westeros

Virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR, which is being bought by Facebook, has acquired RakNet, an open-source C++ coding engine for games, as part of its plan to develop more software for its head-mounted device ahead of a consumer launch.

The deal was the second announced by Oculus in the last two weeks and comes after Facebook said in March that it would acquire Oculus for $US2 billion.

RakNet's C++ system is aimed at programmers who build software across a range of platforms including iOS, Mac, Android and Xbox 360. Some of its customers include the developers of popular games like "Minecraft" and "Lego Universe." Companies such as Sony Online Entertainment and the 3D game engine Unity have also licensed its technology.

"We're pleased to announce that we've acquired RakNet, one of the leading networking middleware systems in the games industry," Oculus said Monday to announce the deal. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. RakNet, based in Costa Mesa, California, is owned by Jenkins Software.

Oculus announced in late June that it had acquired Carbon Design, the industrial design and product engineering company that helped to create the Xbox 360 controller and the original Kinect camera.

Oculus, based in Irvine, California, is ramping up its software development efforts for its Rift headset. The unit is available now as a developer kit for US$350, with a consumer-oriented version expected later this year or early next. So far a number of games and demos have been created by independent developers.

When Facebook announced its acquisition of Oculus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg called virtual reality a major computing platform.

To get things moving in that direction, Oculus also said Monday it will hold its first developer conference, "Oculus Connect," Sept. 19-20 in Hollywood, California. The conference will bring together engineers and designers from around the world, the company said.

The conference application is available online.

Besides Oculus, companies such as Metaio and Google with its Google Glass wearable computer are developing products that enable new ways of interacting with the physical environment, with some promising applications in use in industrial and medical settings.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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