The Real Reason Facebook Bought Oculus: 'Virtual Reality Will Be The On-Ramp To Optical Computing'

Oculus VR's headset Oculus rift Tokyo Game Show 2014REUTERS/Yuya ShinoIs Oculus the future?

In March, Facebook freaked everybody out by buying Oculus, the makers of the Rift VR device, for $US2 billion.

As we’ve reported before, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they bought the company because it was a “a new communication platform.”

At the Paley International Council Summit on Thursday, we learned a little bit more about those plans.

It came up during a conversation between Dan Rose, Facebook’s VP of content and media partnerships, and Jason Rubin, Oculus’ head of worldwide studios.

Rose gave this reason for Oculus being the future of both computing and entertainment:

If you think about the trends in computing technology over the last 50 years, we went from mainframe computers, which were very impersonal and distant, to desktop computers that became directly interactive — you can touch and feel and interact with and interface yourself and set on your desk — to laptops, which you can now suddenly take with you, [to] now today, everybody has a computer in their pocket.

The natural progression of that suggests that the next computing platform will move closer to our bodies. And our belief is that means that it will be something that sits directly on our face that we interact with through our eyes.

Futuristic, right?

“There are a lot of different approaches to how this might take place,” Rose said. “Our bet is that virtual reality will be the on-ramp to optical computing.”

To translate: Facebook thinks that virtual reality is going to be the gateway to working with a computer that you control with your eyes, which takes the promise of something like Google Glass and pushes it even further.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said that virtual reality headsets will eventually shrink to the size of a pair of glasses. And if you could control those with your eyes, you’re looking at a computer interface unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

And Oculus, by Facebook’s estimate, is way ahead of everybody else in making that happen.

Thus the acquisition.

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