Facing the future
“Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures” is the way that Mark Zuckerberg explained Facebook's decision to spend $2 billion for a company that has designed, but is yet to sell, a rather large and cumbersome piece of headgear called the Rift. Facebook now owns Oculus VR is a real favorite in the virtual reality world, a 2012 Kickstarter sensation that has outshined corporate entries such as Sony's Project Morpheus.
Zuckerberg made it clear that this is a long term effort to prepare for a post-mobile social platform, but several challenges surfaced immediately. Re/code recalled the long and difficult history of VR adoption, which could create some speed bumps even for the well regarded Oculus technology. A few milliseconds of latency can literally make a user feel sick. Gartner analyst Brian Blau reminded the readers of Wired that sealing off your eyes and ears can be a solitary experience, and not the social one that Zuckerberg portrayed.
There has also been something of an early mutiny in the developer community and from the original Kickstarter backers, with neither group happy about Facebook's involvement. This isn't a short term vision, however. Venture Beat described a long term goal of Oculus first meeting the demanding needs of gaming and then moving on to create the advanced, immersive social platform that Zuckerberg sees. The big question is the effect that real money will have on VR's acceptance outside of gaming. “It changes our priorities from making money to making virtual reality happen” is what Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe now sees when he looks at the Rift.