Facebook and Oculus. We’ve speculated about what will come of the relationship since its announcement in March, but let’s really get down to brass tacks now that the world has had time to mull over every possibility. The social media giant will pay $2 billion for the company, including $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in Facebook stock, and the potential to earn an extra $300 million in stock and cash if certain milestones are met. The Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition in April.
Wall Street was initially skeptical of the deal, with Facebook’s stock price dropping hours after its announcement in March. (The stock recovered and currently stands at $75.19 as of this writing).
A Dream Turned Reality
In 2013, Palmer Luckey, original founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift, said that he believed social networking was the future of virtual reality and he hoped that one day virtual reality could progress to the point of facilitating a realistic way for people to interact in an immersive environment.
One industry is already exploring the possibilities of Oculus VR’s technology: Hollywood. Attendees of this year’s Comic-Con had the chance to use the Oculus Rift to experience the Cerebro technology used by Professor X in the “X-Men” films as well as get a virtual reality look at the fictional town from the Fox series “Sleepy Hollow.”
Like Fuel to the Fire
Linden Lab, the company behind “Second Life,” recently blogged about how excited they are to see new innovations in the virtual world space and offered their users tips on using Oculus Rift with Second Life. On the other side of the coin, Google lampooned the technology and released “Cardboard,” a set of cardboard joggles that, in conjunction with an Android app, can create a virtual world experience.
Google weren’t the first to take jabs at Oculus. Early supporters of the Oculus Rift Kickstarter project were quick to voice their irritation with the Facebook deal. Many donors were upset about Oculus “selling out” and worried about the future of the Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift has received a lot of attention from big media players and video game developers, but hasn’t yet received a consumer market release and the company will not commit to a release date.
“The Internet of Things”
What impact will the technology have on other industries? An estimated 25 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet by the year 2020. As the “Internet of Things” continues to grow, more and more devices will connect people online and expand the user experience. Will innovations from Oculus VR be a part of that?
In a March piece, Paul Tassi, a Contributor at Forbes, speculated that Facebook may be “testing the waters” for the world’s first virtual reality social network. He posited a digital world filled with avatars interacting with each other in complex, engaging ways.
In his statement on the deal to purchase Oculus VR, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the technology will move beyond gaming and include uses for the classroom, the boardroom, and many other arenas. Zuckerberg classified Oculus as a “communication platform” that will allow users to share experiences and adventures with friends online. In the official Facebook press release, Zuckerberg added that Oculus has the chance to make the “most social platform ever.”
In any case, Oculus VR continues to innovate and grow. They are actively hiring, will soon ship an updated version of their virtual reality goggles to developers, and have set the first Oculus Connect developer conference for September.