Sure, Facebook was the last company we expected to scoop up Oculus and their virtual reality device, Rift, but Oculus’ CEO Brendan Iribe ensures us that the company is still heading in the right direction, even with the social network’s firm grip over the company. Iribe had a chance to talk at TechCrunch Disrupt about the deal with Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the impact it has had on Oculus.
The announced $2 billion purchase of Oculus came as a shock to many people, but Iribe ensured that they will continue operating with the original vision in mind.
“The reason we did the deal was Mark’s commitment to the vision that we have, doing it even faster, bigger and better,” Iribe explained. Because of the deal, Oculus now has all of Facebook’s resources at its disposal, as well as a huge amount of funding for research and development.
Oculus even put together a research group, which will focus on hiring engineers and engaging with universities to expand upon the VR technology. Creating these new viewpoints will allow Oculus to go far beyond their own limited viewpoint, which will help to embed VR into our everyday lives.
But what’s next for Oculus? Iribe teased that a new prototype of the Rift, Oculus’ flagship VR headset, is on the way. With Facebook’s assistance, it will be much sooner than expected.
Iribe would also like to go beyond the Rift and explore new territories, creating a synthetic vision that would be in the form of a lightweight, wearable device, such as a pair of glasses. Iribe would like to truly place users into an advanced virtual world, going far beyond the Rift’s current capabilities.
“When you look at VR and replacing vision and especially the version that really fundamentally flips the switch comfortably and puts you there, which most people haven’t seen yet, but it is there,” Iribe described.
We can also expect Oculus to go beyond its original gaming roots, delivering a social environment like never before. Iribe described entering a virtual room and interacting with a friend’s avatar.
“You will believe these virtual avatars are real, and you will share a virtual space with them and have conversations. You’ll look at their mouth while they’re talking and their eyes, going ‘I know that’s you but you’re a cartoon or you’ve changed your hair, but really I know that’s you.” This will be quite the surreal experience.
Even with Facebook in control, Oculus will still continue branching out into the gaming universe, using the partnership with the social network as leverage.
“For VR we want to be building a platform with a billion users or 10, 15, or 50 million, and that’s where we feel for content for games is going to have a lot more success shipping their content into a gaming ecosystem platform that has a billion users.”