With Oculus Rift, Facebook's plans to build a 'teleporter'

The social-media giant has announced its plans to build virtual-reality technology. What path will Facebook take to get there?

Gus Ruelas/Reuters/Files
Software designer Julian Kantor (l.), who created 'The Recital,' takes a picture of Jonathan Feng using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to experience his program during E3 in Los Angeles, California in 2013.

Facebook wants to take you somewhere else.                                 

That’s the thrust of the comments by Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, made at a press event on Tuesday, when he said that the company seeks to “effectively build a teleporter” by the year 2025, using virtual reality.

To that end, in early 2014, Facebook acquired the virtual-reality startup Oculus VR for $2 billion.

Oculus has so far released two versions of its headsets to software developers. The company's technology has so far been used mostly for video games, but has also seen use in other fields like film and architecture.

In a Facebook post shortly after the acquisition, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Oculus connects neatly to Facebook’s stated mission “to make the world more open and connected,” and that Facebook has plans to “make Oculus a platform for many other experiences,” among them connecting friends and family with loved ones and health care professionals with their patients:

After [video] games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.

The Oculus technology will likely present its own opportunities and challenges. Oculus will launch the retail version of its original product, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, in early 2016, but Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer acknowledged in an interview with GeekWire that there is still a long way to go before virtual-reality technology is fully up to speed.

“The trick with [virtual reality] is, it’s going to be incredible, but everyone is going to have to be a little patient. I think everyone wants it today, including me, but we have a long roadmap for this,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing, but it’s just going to take a while for the hardware to get out there, and then to work with third-party developers to build all the experiences, because that’s going to be the real long pull.” 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to With Oculus Rift, Facebook's plans to build a 'teleporter'
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2015/1105/With-Oculus-Rift-Facebook-s-plans-to-build-a-teleporter
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe