Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Facebooks Oculus - Social Interface of the Future

Facebook closed on a $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality interface controller Oculus.  The company has mastered the creation of goggles that provide a dual-screen, full-eye exposure interface display that immerses you into a digital first person environment.  That's a mouthful to appreciate and in my impression, it was a mouthful to keep down as I nearly got sick in using them myself.  The visual response controls are very good; perhaps too good.

Recently I tried Oculus at the local Dave & Busters and played an offroad'n driving experience.  It was a pretty realistic game and visual experience.  I nearly got sick using them which was probably more due to the offroad'n style game that moved me display in unexpect ways that left me twirled.  So perhaps that game wasn't my cup of tea, but the idea is clear, as your head physically moves in orientation, the stereoscopic goggles adjust your visual perspective to provide a first-person 3D virtual reality that is quite a uniquely real experience.

What will Facebook do with such a device.  Unfortunately very little.  They are buying cool talent, not the gaming hardware.  If these VR interfaces did reach the masses, we could see several uses like a SecondLife in a real-time VR experience with your social network.  However if Google Glass is any comparison though, users will be slow to adjust.  People just don't expect a computer screen to constantly be in front of their eyes.  It's just a bit too immersive and I doubt that anyone could wear them for much longer than 5 minutes at a time without being disorientated and needing several minutes to compensate (almost like decompression after scuba diving!).

The user interface of the future isn't here yet; but when it comes, I honestly think Microsoft is well positioned with Kinect which comes loaded with the ability to detect a persons gestures from across the living room to control a television... now there you've got it.  Unfortunately any even if Microsoft has a leg up, they will fail to take it to the next level and it will be another 10 years until someone else does it.