Facebook is clearly the Pac Man of the tech world – it just keeps “eating up” companies. Facebook’s most recent acquisition, Oculus VR, produces a virtual reality headset called Oculus Rift.
Oculus Rift is a fully immersive 3D experience that makes you feel like you are actually in the game, not one step removed. By moving your head side to side, you can do everything from fly a plane to dodge bullets, depending on the game.
Many gamers and tech gurus are saying that this headset will revolutionize the way that we play video games. So, of course, those people think that Facebook was incredibly smart to snap the company up (especially after the head-scratching purchase of What’sApp for a whopping$16 billion). But, others are wondering why Oculus is so special and what all of the fuss is about.
The headset, after all, isn’t even on the market yet. It got it’s start on Kickstarter, and it is surrounded by the kind of hype all Kickstarter entrepreneurs dream about. The product has been on Kickstarter for a year and half, and last week, they turned the dream of raising enough to actually produce the headset to a $2 billion offer from Facebook. Not bad for a device that wasn’t even real 18 months ago.
So, what makes Oculus Rift so special, and why did Facebook want to shell out $2 billion for its parent company?
For starters, most virtual headsets on the market today are really expensive or are reserved for special sectors like the milirtary. While Oculus Rift’s price isn’t published yet, we do know that it will be competitively priced to attract consumer interest. Developers can currently purchase the headset for $350 so they can build software programs and games to work with it.
More Than Gaming
While Oculus Rift is primarily for video games, it also has higher ambitions. The team behind Oculus Rift wants to change the way we watch movies, and experience other digital media.
The Oculus Rift supports 3D movies and offers a 36o degree viewing experience. A video tech startup, Condition One, is working on a documentary specifically for Oculus Rift. Called Zero Point, this documentary will take advantage of Oculus Rift’s 3D and 360 view capabilities. Check out the interactive trailer, below (which currently just shows a 180 degree view).
Backlash From Kickstarter Backers
Many Kickstarter backers were not happy about the Facebook acquisition.
“What in hell was the point of Kickstarter if you sell out to a giant company like Facebook?” Michael Cooper wrote on the project page. “This is very disappointing. I will no longer be supporting the Oculus Rift in any way.”
For every angry comment, there are also supportive ones. Kickstarter, they argue, is a way to help companies get off the ground. Supporters are not stakeholders, or boards of directors. They don’t have the right to dictate how the company runs, once it does get off the ground.
How Facebook Changes The Story
It’s unclear how Facebook plans to use the Oculus Rift. But, during a conference call on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that they purchased the company because “it’s a long-term bet on the future of computing.”
He made clear that he thinks the Oculus Rift is the future of human computing, and that some day in the future, we could share not just moments, but “entire experiences” with our social media connections.