Facebook buying virtual reality firm Oculus for $2bn but why did facebook pay $2bn for it

Facebook is a social network and Oculus makes gear that enhances video gaming. How is this awkward marriage going to work?

Facebook said it would build on Oculus´ technology, including a virtual reality headset aimed at gamers, seeking to use it in other areas such as communications, education, and entertainment.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is definitely not finished with his shopping. Barely a month after Facebook spent $19 billion on WhatsApp, the company on Wednesday announced that it was buying Oculus VR, a firm that was working on a virtual reality headset for video gamers.

OculusRift1

Either way, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this deal. So let us break down what Oculus VR does and why Facebook wanted it so badly.

What is Oculus VR?

Based on Irvine, california, Oculus is a young company founded by Palmer Luckey, who designed its core product — the Oculus Rift headset — as a 20-year-old engineer at the University of Southern California.

How does the Oculus Rift work?

The headset, which looks like something a skier or scuba diver might wear, fits snugly over the wearer’s face and is paired with headphones. A high-definition 3-D display immerses you in an interactive world — a medieval village, a tropical jungle, a jet’s cockpit — which you navigate with the help of a game controller.

The goggles come packed with an extra-wide field of view, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to track the position of your head and sync the visuals to the direction where you are looking. This technology has allowed Oculus to improve on the sometimes jerky visuals of other virtual-reality systems.

Why did Facebook buy the company?

This is the big question. Given the potential demand for the Oculus Rift when it hits the market, Facebook may view Oculus purely as a new stream of revenue. Some observers suggest the purchase is an attempt to inject some futuristic cool into an aging social-media company that’s falling out of favour with young users.

Orlovsky and Oculus Rift

Orlovsky and Oculus Rift (Photo credit: Google)

How might Facebook use Oculus?

Oculus believes that over the next 10 years, virtual reality will become ubiquitous and affordable. Future technology could potentially allow two Oculus wearers to interact with each other in a virtual world — like Skype on steroids.

“You start to realize how big this could be if you can see someone else, and you can actually look at them and your brain believes they’re right in front of you, not through a screen,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told reporters in a conference call, as reported by Fortune.

So, yes, the Oculus Rift might be a real-world step toward the “Star Trek” Holodeck, a chamber which can simulate any environment. Instead of messaging your old college pals through Facebook, why not meet them for a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon?

So, yes, the Oculus Rift might be a real-world step toward the “Star Trek” Holodeck, a chamber which can simulate any environment. Instead of messaging your old college pals through Facebook, why not meet them for a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon?

“You get the goosebumps,” Iribe continued. “You see how big this could be, and how social it is, and the impact it could have on other industries.”

Still, however, some observers remain skeptical.

“The real question is: Does Mark Zuckerberg actually believe that Facebook’s aging user base is going to be enthusiastic about the notion of a virtual social experience?” wrote Eric Mack for Forbes.

“While I’m sure that Facebook would love to integrate virtual reality gaming and chats with doctors on the other side of the world into its platform,” Mack added, “could part of the calculus also be to hedge against the day that the era of the social network as we know it becomes totally played out?”

[credit- google news, cnn news]Image

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