Oculus VR was recently all over the news because it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. But Oculus VR is still operating independently and trying to figure out the future of virtual reality. Co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe took the stage at Disrupt NY today to talk about a new research initiative to turn virtual reality into the next major tech platform.
“We just started a research group. There are starting to recruit very talented engineers,” Iribe said. “And they will engage with universities and work with students.”
The company will also sponsor hackathons and get engineers excited about the Oculus Rift. In other words, Oculus VR plans to crowdsource virtual reality use cases.
Looking at where VR is going to go in the next 10 years, it’s going to be a lot about face-to-face communication and social.
The company already knows one thing for sure — virtual reality has a huge potential. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino’s first questions were of course about the acquisition. And, according to Iribe, it makes sense because Facebook and Oculus VR share the same vision and ambition.
“We started off with a big focus in gaming,” he said. “But looking at where VR is going to go in the next 10 years, it’s going to be a lot about face-to-face communication and social.”
Over the past decades, multiple major tech platforms were created and became mainstream. At first, there was the personal computer. Then, the Internet built on top of that. Smartphones put all that in your pocket. Iribe believes that virtual reality is the next platform.
“Mobile is probably one of the last 2D screen-based platform,” Iribe said. “We are replacing vision and actually making synthetic vision. This is going to be what we call the final platform. You can convince and trick your brain to be in this place.”
For example, the research & development team of Oculus VR has developed and interesting demo. When you put the Oculus Rift headset, you are transported into an empty room with a cube at the center. This cube is attached to another headset, meaning that when someone else puts another headset, the cube will move with this other person’s head. You instantly know that it’s another human being, even though it looks like a cube. This is why virtual reality is powerful. “You will believe that these virtual avatars are real,” Iribe said.
Iribe also had comments on Google Glass. According to him, Google is not really competing with them. “You just get notifications in the corner of your eye,” he said. Moreover, Google Glass is facing a social issue — wearing Google Glass in public is still awkward. Or, in Iribe’s own words, “Google Glass has a little bit of that Segway feel to it.”