Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oculus Rift and Facebook: Virtual Reality Meets Social Networks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oculus Rift and Facebook: Virtual Reality Meets Social Networks

Article excerpt

What would a virtual reality social network look like? Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg gave users a preview when he announced Tuesday night Facebook bought virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR for $2 billion.

"Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home," he wrote in a blog post.

"This is really a new communication platform," he adds. "By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures."

With Facebook at the helm, this virtual reality acquisition raises some intriguing questions about the future of social networks, and how we experience and interact with the world. So what's the story behind the virtual platform that will allow us to sit courtside at a basketball game (while really sitting on our couch)?

Though companies have made plenty of virtual reality headsets in the past, few have the advanced, immersive technology Oculus VR has developed. Their main headset, the Rift, is one of the only virtual reality headsets with motion-sensing ability that allows users to move their head in order to view more of the virtual world around them. Users strap oversized goggles on their head, and the screen inside displays 3-D, high-resolution images. Right now, its focus is video games.

Oculus' most recent model has eliminated issues with motion sickness and lag time, common problems of virtual reality headsets (and key issues that must be overcome to be commercially successful).

So far, the Rift hasn't been released commercially, and founder Palmer Luckey says it will be released "when it's ready. …

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