• 04.13.16

Facebook’s VR goal is true “social presence”

If you’ve ever used Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset, you know that it’s amazing—but that using it, even if you’re interacting with another human, feels nothing like dealing with real people in the real world.

At the second-day keynote at Facebook’s F8 conference, Oculus researcher Yaser Sheikh said that the long-term goal is create “social presence” in VR that is indistinguishable from a real-world experience. That involves replicating reality so precisely that it’s possible to pick up the tiniest, most subtle cues from another user’s expressions and gestures.

As part of that effort, Oculus is already experimenting with headsets that use cameras to capture a user’s lip movements:

I find this stuff fascinating and exciting, and if it takes decades to create true VR social presence, I’m willing to wait. But it’s also worth pausing to consider the reactions of other people, including those who—regardless of whether you think they’re being fair or not—may have plenty of company.