Feeds

Facebook swallows Oculus VR goggle-geeks. Did that really happen?

$2bn engulfment to wire humans into Zuck's Matrix

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Facebook has bought startup Oculus VR, which makes the much-hyped virtual-reality Rift headsets, for $2bn.

The acquisition comes as people spend more time with their pals in digital worlds rather than the physical realm, and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg wants to tap into that shift.

The acquisition of Oculus VR Inc was announced on Tuesday – and will see the West's largest social network acquire a technologically sophisticated upstart dedicated to persuading people to escape their real lives.

"Virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform," Facebook wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. "Facebook plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas."

Oculus VR will be bought for about $2bn – $1.6bn in 23.1m shares of Facebook common stock and the possibility of $300m extra "on the achievement of certain milestones."

"Oculus's mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences," gushed Zuckerberg this afternoon, US West Coast time.

"Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate."

Then, revealing perhaps he has watched The Matrix a few too many times, Zuck continued: "But this is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. 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."

Over at Oculus, co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe added: "We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world.

"We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning."

Doom creator John Carmack recently left ID Software to take up the chief technology officer role at Oculus VR to help the company fix some of its tech issues, such as the vomit-inducing visual "smearing" that can occur when you move your head too fast. The graphics-programming genius is now, technically, a Facebook employee.

The upstart's VR goggles have also received support from gaming behemoth Valve Software, which is testing support for Oculus Rift in its Steam gaming platform via a service named SteamVR.

Today's acquisition follows Facebook's eye-watering $19bn buy of chat app WhatsApp – another pricey purchase that saw the social network decisively dish out dosh to give it access to a technology that threatened its core business of owning all data pertaining to your online social life. In the short term, WhatsApp's international cheap messaging tech posed a threat to FB as people become ever-more connected across borders.

In the long-term, perhaps Facebook worries that it could be eclipsed by a social network forged in virtual reality, much like the digital worlds predicted by the cyberpunk sci-fi authors Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.

The transaction should close by the second quarter of 2014. Oculus will keep its HQ in Irvine, CA, and will carry on developing the Oculus Rift goggles, which recently saw their second major release: the Dev Kit 2. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?