When you woke up this morning, did you think Facebook would be acquiring the leader in virtual reality technology? Me neither, but here we are.
Mark Zuckerberg announced this afternoon that Facebook would be acquiring Oculus VR - the makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset - for $2 billion. The company has been working on the Oculus Rift as gaming platform ever since its successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Zuckerberg says those plans won't be changing. Instead, the social network plans on expanding Oculus' scope to include more than just gaming applications. Here's what he had to say:
After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side 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.
This is really a new communication platform. 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.
These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.
Here's the full announcement:
This acquisition is way out of left field and it's still a little confusing. With it, Facebook is becoming more like Google in that it acquires companies that aren't related to its core business, but rather just cool side projects that may one day transform how we live our lives. Heck, earlier the month it was reported that Facebook would be buying Titan Aerospace - a company that makes drones. What's next - the singularity? Oh wait, Zuckerberg is investing in that as well.
Even Oculus VR understands that this is all a little weird, but says it and Facebook are more alike than you may think:
At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.
Most important, Facebook understands the potential for VR. Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate. Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more.
This partnership is one of the most important moments for virtual reality: it gives us the best shot at truly changing the world. It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR.
Despite still feeling a little weird about all this, I can't wait until I can hang out with my friends without having to leave the house. It won't be long till we're all stuck in our homes socializing via virtual reality.
Image via Wikimedia Commons