Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer just used what is very likely the world’s first virtual reality selfie stick — and the crowd went nuts.
Schroepfer was showing off so-called “social VR,” where two or more people can hang out in virtual reality, at today’s Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco. It’s an important way to prove that virtual reality plays into Facebook’s traditional strengths in helping people share and communicate.
In his demo, he strapped on an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and connected with a remote Facebook employee at its Menlo Park campus.
In the short demo, Schroepfer and his buddy virtually travelled through London and to a secret Facebook drone hangar. To get to new places, he picked up a sphere showing the next scene and pushed it up to his face.
The nifty part is that thanks to the Oculus Touch controllers, the two were able to hand objects to each other — the Facebook engineer actually scribbled a blue tie for Schroepfer in the virtual air and pinned it on him. When Schroepfer wanted to change his avatar, he used the controllers to virtually put it on his head like a mask.
Importantly, it was all smooth and natural, just two guys hanging out in virtual reality, taking a stroll through an admittedly slick vision of London. Facebook’s ambition is to use virtual reality as a “teleporter” and this was an important demonstration of that potential.
And when they finished the demo by taking a selfie in front of London’s famous Big Ben, using that virtual selfie stick, the crowd went nuts. The applause restarted when Schroepfer shared it straight to his Facebook timeline by literally picking up and the photo and dropping it in a virtual mailbox.
Facebook is banking big on virtual reality. Smooth, sweet demos like this go a long way towards explaining how it can feed Facebook’s mission of bringing people closer together.