Facebook has bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion USD – so what is it exactly that they have bought and why?
Oculus Rift is a head-mounted virtual reality display that was first shown to the public in June 2012. It was financed on Kickstarter in August of the same year and raised $2.5 million USD – $2.25 million more than they were asking for.
There were three key factors in its success:
1) It was relatively cheap – you could buy a beta “developers” kit for $300 USD
2) It was a really sensible business model – they wanted people to start producing content as soon as possible so they could inform the development of the hardware and by the time the device was ready for retail there would be things you could use it for, games you play, movies you could watch
3) It was bloody good – by all accounts head and shoulders better than anything that had been produced before
This isn’t new technology; commercial virtual reality solutions have been around for over 30 years but they’ve been plagued with technical issues, expensive, poorly supported and prone to make the users sick.
However, advances in technology, processing power, screens and sensors inspired two home enthusiasts to buy off the shelf components and make the Oculus Rift. A device that was cheap, worked really well and they’d even come up with a plan to get lots of content developed for it.
While this may seem little more than a gimmick today, it has potential that stretches far beyond video game player’s dreams and into changing the way we work, rest as well as the way we play.
Facebook see the potential. Google, Sony, Microsoft also see that potential.
My advice is to watch this virtual space.
Barney Vollans is a Senior Digital Producer at BCM