Facebook buys Oculus virtual-reality goggles firm: What the deal means

So what is Oculus VR all about and what does the deal mean? Here's a quick look.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it was buying the creator of 3D virtual reality glasses Oculus VR.


Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement of the deal on his Facebook page, and wrote: "I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology...They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you're actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it's different from anything they've ever experienced in their lives." 


According to reports Facebook has paid nearly for $2 billion for the firm and this is the company's next big acquisition after the $19 billion it paid for mobile messaging app WhatsApp. So what is Oculus VR all about and what does the deal mean? Here's a quick look.


What is Oculus VR?:   Oculus VR was founded by Palmer Luckey. The firm got its initial funding via a Kickstarter campaign.  The company raised close to $2.4 million being from 9,522 backers on Kickstarter website, much more than the original target of $250,000. The company then raised $75 million in December in a round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz.   Oculus currently has over 100 employees and has distributed some 75,000 software development kits for Oculus Rift to game developers and others.


What does the firm make:  Virtual reality 3D goggles called Oculus Rift which have met with considerable success in the gaming community. Oculus Rift, are goggles which allows users to immerse into an 3D digital world  with high-resolution images. There are motion sensors in the headset that track the movement of a person’s head, shifting their view on the screen and thus creating the illusion that the user is in another world.


Oculus also opened pre-orders for the a new, Developed Kit 2 (DK2) which promises better graphics and features. The new DK2 will ship in July for $350 a piece.  


What does Facebook plan to do with 3D goggles: According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will "focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games." 


Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook for now. But Facebook intends to go beyond games and wants the 3D experience for other activities as well. According to Zuckerberg, "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."


It sounds like science fiction talk but it does hold a possibility of coming true in the future.  For Facebook, the hope is that once augmented immersive reality becomes an everyday thing, it will be one of the key players in that area.


Except that the product development would take decades, if not more, to become an everyday reality.


What Oculus has to say about the deal: In an interview to The VergeOculus CEO Brendan Iribe and founder Palmer Luckey spoke about why the deal happened with Facebook in the first place. They told the website that talks had been going with Facebook for a long time.


According to Luckey,  "They believe in our vision of virtual reality. There are so many other companies that have been interested, they have a vision of what they wanted to do to fit into our product roadmap, and if they bought us it would be so that we could build what they wanted us to build. Mark does believe in our vision of virtual reality, and we're going to continue operating independently, delivering what we've always wanted to deliver."  


Also Luckey says that as the virtual reality market develops, one has to go beyond smartphones and mobiles. "But as virtual reality gets more and more advanced, the right thing to do is develop hardware that's made specifically for virtual reality," he told the website.

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