In March earlier this year, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, a company developing revolutionary technology that takes virtual reality to the next level. The two billion dollar deal allowed Facebook to have a hand in the development of the Oculus Rift device (currently designed for video-gaming), which combines headphones and a visor so that gamers can completely immerse themselves in the experience.
Now, Facebook aims to fuse that technology with the movie industry to create a new way of watching films – making 3D technology a thing of the past. So far they have been rumored to be discussing this next step with entertainment studios such as 21st Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount and NBC Universal.
Mark Zuckerberg appears to see this technology as ‘the next big thing’ in computing saying, “There are not many things that are candidates to be the next major computing platform… [This acquisition is a] long-term bet on the future of computing.”
Oculus VR was conceived by Palmer Luckey, a now 21-year-old pioneer in the field of virtual reality. The Oculus Rift device follows the movements of the user’s head to display the view in a virtual world.
When first promoted on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, Oculus technology supporters met the required amount of funding within a matter of hours, and the project went on to raise a million dollars in just a few days. The original versions of Oculus Rift were slightly flawed, as many test users experienced nausea, but the technology has since been updated so that problem no longer exists (except we’re told in very rare cases). The device has not yet hit retail markets as developers are working to improve the technology as much as possible before the launch.
Movies have already started using Oculus technology to promote themselves. The 2014 film ‘Into the Storm’ set-up a few Oculus testing stations that allowed people to watch the film’s trailer so they felt like they were experiencing the natural disasters it’s about.
Sony has started developing its own technology like Oculus, creating a similar experience which will be compatible with the PlayStation 4 and future PlayStation generations.
Oculus Rift headsets are expected to be available in retail markets either by the end of this year or by the beginning of 2015.