SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook believes that virtual reality is the future — and laid down a cool $2 billion to prove it.
Yesterday Facebook announced that it reached a deal to acquire Oculus VR, the creators of the virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift.
While many believed that the Oculus Rift, if viable, would serve as an innovative gaming platform, allowing for a fully immersive 3-D user experience, Facebook’s head honcho Mark Zuckerberg saw a greater potential for the fledgling hardware as social networking tool.
“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,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook.
Brendan Iribe, co-founder and the chief executive of Oculus VR, added that Facebook members could potentially create 3D avatars and interact with each other in a virtual party-like scenario.
“If you can see somebody else, and your brain believes they’re right in front of you, you get goosebumps,” Iribe told the New York Times. “You start to realize how big this could be.”
Understandably omitted from the discussion is the sexual element. If you can shake hands with an avatar, you can probably have sex with it.
While Zuckerberg stated that virtual reality could be the preferred interface of tomorrow, and that we are still in a mobile-centric phase, its adoption could revolutionize teledildonics, as well as identity, touch and sexuality, shifting our globally integrated society further into a non/semi/alt-corporeal realm.
Before the acquisition, several interactive erotic 3D games were being developed for the Oculus Rift, including “Wicked Paradise” and Custom Maid 3D.” It is unclear whether or not those projects will continue, especially given that Facebook's community policies err on the sexually restrictive side.
Amid that starry-eyed wonder and what-ifs, many critics have injected their bit of cynicism, pointing out that virtual reality has had a stop-and-go "future" for several decades now.
Oculus Rift has shipped about 75,000 of its headsets to game developers, but it has yet to announce a public debut.
According to the New York Times, Facebook is paying $400 million in cash and about $1.6 billion in stock for the company, with up to $300 million more depending on Oculus’s performance.