Faceboook’s move to position itself at the forefront of immersive technologies with the acquisition of Oculus VR last year, may have implications beyond Virtual Reality. During a talk at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg positively confirmed that Augmented Reality will play a part in the social media giant’s future, adding “It’s a bit further out.”
At first glance, Augmented Reality is actually a more logical direction for an immersive social technology company to pursue, but AR’s level of technical progression now sits some way behind that of virtual reality. This is partly because VR has received the lion’s share of investment and attention over the last few years thanks to it’s initial positioning as a Gaming technology.
However, despite VR’s technical requirements which have been and remain extremely challenging, AR’s mixed reality of computer visualisation overlaid into our real world poses a host of new ones. For this reason, it makes sense for VR to be the first stop for Facebook on the road for the next step in social interaction via it’s software platforms.
Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist at Oculus and long time augmented reality evangelist, said on the subject “It’s kind of seamless. Maybe it’ll be contacts [or glasses]. You’ll have something on and it’ll be VR and AR as you choose,” but on those aforementioned technical hurdles “But right now the VR tech is past the knee of the curve. For AR, it’s harder. There are a whole host of challenges — how you do the optics and displays and get photos onto the eyes, how you have something that’s socially acceptable and comfortable all day. I think VR is here now, I think AR will be here, but it’s a long road to get there.”