Sale of Oculus VR’s Virtual Reality Hardware to Facebook:
A Sell-out or The Right Move?
You might remember hearing back in March that Facebook purchased a virtual reality company called Oculus VR for 2 billion dollars. This is interesting because Oculus VR was supported via crowdfunding, and has yet to release a single consumer product.
Oculus VR released a development kit for a virtual reality headset back in 2012 and reignited an interest in virtual reality gaming. The Rift provided a 3D experience with a wide field of view, emulating human vision in a virtual world. It also featured head motion tracking, which proved to be a truly inspiring experience, getting them high praise from almost anyone who tried it.
A video of a 90-year-old grandmother experiencing a virtual representation of Tuscany on the Rift went viral in 2013, she seemed to believe the virtual environment was so realistic, it must have been composed of real photos.
Some individuals that contributed to Oculus VR’s original Kickstarter campaign had strong objections to the Facebook sale, claiming that Oculus VR was “selling out”, and fearing that the company, which had been so focused on video games up to this point, would suddenly become more social media oriented in its vision for the future.
This might be a little bit short-sighted. The added capital and support from Facebook should allow a consumer model to be released sooner, and be more powerful when it arrives.
A second developer kit has recently been announced, it has higher resolution internal displays and reduced latency in its motion detection (among many other improvements).
So what does this mean for consumers? Aside from providing more realistic gameplay that has ever been experienced before, the Oculus Rift is essentially a 3D display, so in the end, it may be used like any other content streaming device, so you can play a game in a 3D virtual world and then simply flip over to Netflix. Oculus VR is bringing us one step closer to the Holodeck, and they aren’t alone. You can check out Sony’s upcoming VR headset for the PS3.