Why Did Facebook Really Buy Oculus Rift?

oculusThe tech blogs are outdoing themselves to gush praise on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s megabillions bet on virtual reality company Oculus Rift sample the excitement below from Gizmodo); but do disinfonaut skeptics have other ideas as to what’s driving Zuckerberg’s interest in VR?

The news today that Facebook will buy Oculus—the makers of the best virtual reality experiencein existence—caused paroxysms of upsetment and surprise. That’s fair! But once the smoke clears, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the most promising technology we have.

If you’ve been tracking Oculus since its early days as a Kickstarter project, today’s acquisition is frustrating. Facebook is your trying-too-hard uncle; Oculus is the homecoming queen. Of course seeing them together would give you the creeps.

It shouldn’t. Oculus offered a beautiful dream, but you can only get so far on Kickstarter funds. Facebook offers the financial wherewithal to make the Oculus Rift a truly mass product, to realize its vision beyond just a gimmick-driven game engine. Even better, it looks like Mark Zuckerberg gets what makes Oculus so special.

Let It Rift

We’ve seen Oculus do lots of amazing things so far. It can take you up the Game of Thrones ice wall, or turn Unreal Engine 4 games into something that feels very, very real. Even the Navy leans on it for its next-generation war games.

Neat, right? Also limiting. Virtual reality has historically been applied to gaming, and that’s how Oculus began as well. But VR’s roots—especially the goofy headset version—are from an age that predates the bandwidth we have today, the drive towards connectivity, the densely layered social tissue that Facebook and Twitter and Skype and WhatsApp have spent the last decade cultivating. Despite lofty dreams of a VR internet, technical limitations have made VR games a closed circuit, a way for you and maybe one friend to pretend that you weren’t in the room—or mall concourse—you were actually in. But it can be so much more. Facebook gets that…

[continues at Gizmodo]

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  • Anarchy Pony

    “the most promising technology we have.” By what fucking rubric?

    • Thurlow Weed

      Measure used in this case is $$$, pretty sure.

  • Echar Lailoken

    There’s a lot of amazing ways I can dream up that can apply to this technology (Therapy, RPG games, Social environments, Virtual concerts, consciousness expansion, etc.). However I have doubts about it being accepted by the average consumer. Memories of headache inducing monochrome red and black come to mind.

    It is true that the Oculus rift is streets ahead of the Virtual boy, yet it seems gimmicky. One never knows though. That omni directional treadmill is the cat’s ass, to boot. One never knows though. The idea of the PC gaming ruling over consoles was to be scoffed at five or more years ago. The cost of hardware was too much. I prefer to see Zuckerman and his people focus more on their free internet plan.

    • Woobniggurath

      A generation from now there will be people who never take it – and the associated haptics – off. Soma via PEG tube, bathed by a CNA, housed at virtual life facilitation centers, possible hung from wires as in the book “Coma.” The virtuallifestyles of the ones rich enough to really tune in, turn on, and drop out.

      • Echar Lailoken

        Perhaps…

        • Woobniggurath

          Consider the intensity with which people already become dependent on their WOW avatars.

          • Echar Lailoken

            Or their electronic devices.

          • Woobniggurath

            And then imagine an electronic device which could seamlessly envelop your body into the fantasy world of your choosing. The ultimate non-pharm addiction.

            Search for haptics. The results are from commercial R&D. This is already in the pipe.

          • Echar Lailoken

            The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Futurological_Congress

            The movie based on the book

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHBl43lMJY0

          • Woobniggurath

            Had no Idea this animation existed. Thanks.

          • Echar Lailoken

            You are welcome. Also, I remember reading about haptics at least ten years back.

  • alizardx

    I think a pair of needs matched, Facebook desperately needs to stay relevant, and Carnack and his VC investors wanted lots of money.

    Look for future VR innovations to come from outside Oculus.

  • Jonas Planck

    Because what good is just manufacturing and selling a product if the product you’re selling doesn’t help construct an exhaustive psychological profile dossier on the customer?

    • Woobniggurath

      Well, you could actually own their entire life, which they live within the confines of your corporate server farms.

      • Jonas Planck

        Ugh. I’m never going back to that. They’ll have to defrag me and gut my reasoning core before I let that happen!

  • Gjallarbru

    I can’t exactly put my finger on what Zuckerberg could want with this tech. Unfortunatly, even without speculating, what I know of this guy means I can’t trust him or any technology under his control.

    At this point, I would like to say that there are a number of very real technologies who’s very purpose is to determine our state via analysis of the eyes. The point of these is anywhere from detection of drivers under influence of drugs/alcohol, to lie detection. This stuff is real, and credible research has determined such technology as potentially viable. There are also a number of applications which would serve society. And last I heard, there where companies seeking to bring this to market soon.

    Now, imagine a company with a wealth of behavioral data, owning a device which obviously can/could track eye mouvement. Now imagine they simply had to modify the software to make use of the previously mentionned reasearch. How far could that technology be pushed is only determined by the purpose you would have for it.

  • Number1Framer

    This is what Jobe the lawnmower man will use to gain access to the grid and control everything. His birth will be signaled by the simultaneous ringing of every phone on the planet…

    • Jonas Planck

      CYBOMAN!!!!

  • BrianApocalypse

    A Facebook logo is really going to piss all over the cyberpunk style points.

    • Jonas Planck

      I’m sure they’ll find a way to reduce the prototype to a cool looking pair of mirrored sunglasses… and the telemetry gear can be fit into a leather trenchcoat, allowing users to pretend that they’re characters in the Matrix movies…

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