OSSIC X 3D audio headphone dream is no more

Crowdfunding is always a risky venture, both for the creators as well as the backers. Being successfully funded, even raising three to five to ten times the goal, is never an assurance that the promised product will be delivered. The bigger the ambition, the bigger the risks and the OSSIC X is definitely a big one. It promised to do for audio what VR is doing for visuals. Sadly, that promise is dead as OSSIC, the startup behind the headphones, reveals it will no longer be able to deliver the remaining headphones as it has completely run out of funds.

Surround sound is a good enough approximation of the three-dimensional properties of real-world sound if you're sitting or standing still. When in virtual reality, or even in games, 3D spatial audio can make or break the illusion of immersion. VR, however, has mostly been focuses on the visual side of the technology and audio, as always, has taken a backseat.

OSSIC X wanted to change that and use some of the same technologies in VR headsets, like head tracking, to offer a believable audio experience both in virtual reality and real reality. The startup may have overestimated how difficult it would be to create a completely new product or the resistance they would receive from manufacturers and suppliers simply for the fact that they're a tiny company.

OSSIC asked for $100,000 on Kickstarter back in 2016 and was able to raise $2.7 million from nearly 10,300 backers. Those funds, and whatever they may have received in other investments, have all run dry after R&D, prototyping, and producing a first batch of 250 units that were shipped to some backers. The other 10,000 will be left wondering what could have been.

Not that the startup didn't try to secure more funding, but it seems that investors are now more wary of anything related to VR, after a slow start and no small number of failed hardware startups. Without even any money to refund backers, OSSIC has no choice but to shut down immediately as well. Only time will tell if someone else will be able to pick up the pieces and give VR the audio experience it deserves.