Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that his social media empire is buying Oculus VR, the makers of the Oculus Rift head mounted virtual reality system for $2 billion dollars. This angered a lot of people in the gamming community who feel Zuckerberg is going to ruin the promise of what Oculus could be. Unlike the glory days of weird, pseudo virtual reality of 1990’s films and television that sucked users into a Tron like world of neon glowing orbs and lack of understanding of how computers actually work- the Oculus Rift promises a true immersive VR experience. In other words you’ll feel like you’re really there! For people who grew up watching these science fiction movies, dreaming of a day when virtual reality was a reality this is like if Toyota suddenly announced that it was coming out with a flying Prius.
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The excitement for Oculus Rift was so great right from that start, that when founder Palmer Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign he quickly raised over 2 million dollars in funding, largely backed by gamers excited to finally be able leave reality altogether. While the Oculus Rift doesn’t have a consumer model available yet, kits are being shipped to software developers. Zuckerberg however has his own big plans for the VR helmet. Here are some theories on just how he might help Oculus Rift fulfill the dreams of all those sci-fi movies that showed us just how crappy virtual reality could be!
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Strange Days Style Cyber Sex
Strange Days was a great film from 1995 that took place in the future year of 1999. In a short four years the film predicts that a technology will have been developed to allow users to record and re-experience other people’s memories in full virtual sensory emersion. Oculus Rift could finally be able to provide us with these amazing fantasies, as the movie says “without consequence.” You could rob a convenience store, murder someone, or even “be an 18 year old girl taking a shower!” Hey, if Ralph Fiennes thinks it’s cool, don’t knock it.
Only, in Strange Days everyone who used this VR tech was addicted to it, and couldn’t stop plugging in and using it over and over again, every day instead of getting any real work done. I’m sure now that Facebook is on board that problem won’t be an issue! But things could be worse . Just imagine. You are jacked in, about to have some hot cybersex on the information superhighway with Juliet Lewis when a message pops up on your screen and your mom starts “poking” you. Happy time is interrupted! Or worse your friend will show you baby photos at the wrong moment! Hopefully Zuck will develop a virtual sock on the door.
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The Lawnmower Man Godlike Powers of World Dominance
The 1992 film The Lawnmower Man explored using VR while strapped into a giant hamster ball. State of the art computer graphics showed us what it would be like to enter a computer world where anything is possible that you can create with your mind. Unfortunately those graphics were more like old commercials for 8 bit Nintendo games that would use animations or actors to recreate what the software designers imagined their crappy games to be like in their heads. The Lawnmower Man envisioned virtual reality graphics much better than anything that was available at the time, but the reality was much lamer.
We saw a world of instant power and communication where a person could become a fully digitally emerged being of pure energy – “This technology is meant to expand human communication but you’re not even human anymore!” Now that Facebook has bought Oculus, the creative freedom to do whatever you want (aka Godlike powers that the antagonist of Lawnmower Man gained) will be streamlined. Now you will be able to do whatever you want in your virtual world… as long as it conforms with Facebook’s constant updates and user friendly modifications that everyone already enjoys. Yay! And be sure to look forward to entering a graphic intense world of white and blue scrolling corporate fun.
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Arcade: The Ultimate Gaming Experience
In the 1995 movie Arcade all you need to play are “two quarters and your soul!” This movie reminded us of the power of virtual reality; that you could really feel like you’re inside the game! Or in the case of this silly movie, that the game could come outside of the computer into the real world and kill people.
Well it took over 20 years but it seems like these mind blowing games are finally here. Gaming is still the number one reason people are excited for Oculus Rift and its competitors. And Facebook is already coming out of the computer to kill us. So it would seem this terrible example of Virtual Reality is coming true. Zuckerberg has a slight modification to that however. Instead of blissfully crushing zombies in gaming mode you will be… buying a purse for your girlfriend as depicted in this demo:
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Using Robotic Surrogates To Kick Ass!
In the Bruce Willis flick Surrogates people control lifelike robots via virtual reality and can experience everything the robot does in full sensory emersion, including how terrible this movie is. People take virtual reality a step further by experiencing real- reality- virtually. Now we can live out the dream of never leaving our bedrooms, while our sleek, good looking robot counterparts roam around and have all the fun! Humanity will become a sad episode of Hoarders as we are slowly buried in our own trash and filth, strapped to our VR helmets.
Oculus Rift is already helping make this an actual reality with a telebot project created by students at Florida International University. Users can now control a police robot using Oculus Rift with sensor gloves and commit police brutality remotely instead of having to get their hands dirty- just like in Surrogates!
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Get Stalked Virtuosity Style by Creepy Facebook Friends
Virtuosity was another film from 1995 that predicted by 1999 VR technology would advance so quickly in four years that Russell Crowe would be chasing Denzel Washington around in life like scenarios, only to escape the computer and try and kill him for real, in real life. Yeah, the movie was a total bomb. And while VR still might make you barf if you use it too long, Zuckerberg aims to have Oculus finally have that life like experience we have dreamed of.
By integrating Facebook social technology with the Oculus Rift will lead to the feeling of instant teleportation throughout the world. Instead of just Skyping with someone, you will have telepresence like you are in the room with them. So now instead of ignoring those Facebook posts from that weird guy you went to high school with, it will feel just like he’s in the room with you! Say hello to Gerald!
Using Virtual Reality For Things You Shouldn’t Need to like in Disclosure
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What was great about the 1994 movie Disclosure was that it had nothing to with virtual reality for the most part. It was a film about sexual harassment in the workplace and happened to take place at a computer company. However a scene toward the end of the movie makes me wonder if Disclosure was secretly set in the future. Why else would they throw in a virtual reality device that was way beyond any technology of the time? It’d be like at the end of Breaking Bad if Walter White started meeting with bad guys in VR just to make it look interesting. In this clip we see Michael Douglas access company files through this janky VR device; which seems way easier than just opening MS Word.
With Zuckerbgerg’s Oculus Rift, instead of reading news and posts on your Facebook time stream, you will be able to walk through 3D rendered stacks of newspapers thrown at you by a terrifying virtual paper boy that sadly looks more like The Lawnmower Man, then Demi Moore circa 1994.
Follow Phil Haney @PhilHaney