One Oculus Rift Application Facebook Never Expected
If a technology is powerful enough and it can be used for a wide range of applications, there’s no telling how people will use it in the future. That seems to be the case with Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset that lets users inhabit virtual worlds in a realistic way. ZDNet reports that the Norwegian army has begun testing the use of Oculus Rift headsets to give their tank drivers a better view of the outside world. Effectively, the headset can make it appear that the tank is see-through, giving drivers an unobstructed 360 degree view of their surroundings. Is this what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when Facebook purchased Oculus earlier this year?
It’s clear that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) knew the Oculus Rift had many untapped applications when it bought the company. Prior to the acquisition, the Oculus Rift had been targeted at the PC video game market, giving gamers a new way to immerse themselves in the virtual worlds of the games they currently play on monitors. But Facebook’s plans, according to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, reach well beyond traditional gaming.
In an interview with CNN, Iribe said, “If you’re putting on this pair of glasses and you’re going to be face-to-face communicating with people and you’re going to be jumping in and out of this new set of virtual worlds, this was going to be the largest MMO (massively multiuser online community) ever made … This is going to be an MMO where we want to put a billion people in virtual reality.”
Facebook wants to create an enormous virtual community using Oculus, but did it consider the possible military implications of the technology? Probably not. That’s the thing with wide-ranging technology: it can solve problems you didn’t know existed.