Facebook’s Virtual Reality Plan Is Ambitious
Last week, Facebook made some big news during its annual developers conference not only for what it announced, but also for its extensive vision of what is coming down the line.
Virtual reality is what Facebook spent most of the time talking about. Oculus is owned by Facebook and is the most generally recognized VR company. The company just released the Rift which is the first commercial VR headset. The Rift focuses on gaming right now, but since Facebook bought Oculus in 2014, it has been saying that it has broader plans to make the Oculus technology work towards more general social interaction.
Yaser Sheikh, the head of research for Oculus Pittsburgh lab, talked about multiple possibilities of how the VR social interaction would actually look like.
Sheikh explained a world where players could play a poker game with friends utilizing VR which is so sensitive that you can read their tells. He further defines what it would mean for people who live away from their families to use a headset so that they are able to interact. He added that ultimately his team hopes to make interaction with virtual reality “indistinguishable from real life.”
It’s obvious this will all take a lot of work. For now, the commercial Rift can not represent your hands in virtual reality, although by the end of the year that is poised to change. Sheikh described a research that would let the users accurately map out facial expressions as they will put their entire bodies in a virtual reality world.
Recently, Greenlight Virtual Reality released a study that predicted that virtual reality will take six to eight years to completely go mainstream. That sort of timeline seems a little ambitious if we go by all the research that Sheikh said had to be completed to make a social presence really work during the Facebook keynote.
The Rift inventor, Palmer Luckey believes in virtual reality and it could be amazing but not all shared that view. Jason Rubin, head of worldwide studios oversees content development for Oculus said that vision is really important and it we rely on it for a majority of your senses. We can get control of your belief system if we take over your eyes.
Tim Merel, founder of technology advisory firm Digi-Capital, says that within a few years augmented reality will eclipse virtual reality. This will make augmented reality bigger; make its effects more disruptive and faster than mobile was compared to the original Internet.
Sharples professor of human factors at the University of Nottingham points out that common sense should prevail in VR companies as they are keenly involved in probing the problems. The negative effects of using VR should not stop us from using it, but we need to be cautious and sensible. She advises that you should not use the headset if you feel unwell and be under close supervision.
The design process in product development companies can be implemented using this technology. 3DSystems have just released the Touch 3D Stylus designed for engineers and 3D artists which enable force feedback to allow you to feel and physically sculpt your 3D products. In the near future, it will be interesting to see what other products and technologies will emerge targeting the design and development professionals.