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Facebook boss compares current VR to first "terrible" mobile phones

Mark Zuckerberg is convinced that VR headsets will become much easier to wear in the years ahead

Virtual Reality continues to gather momentum, and no one wants it to succeed more than Oculus owners Facebook, which invested $2 billion in acquiring the company last year. While the potential is certainly there and many in the development community are excited, the fact is a consumer product isn't available yet, and when it does hit the market it will be somewhat clunky. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg fully acknowledged that fact in a recent "town hall" meeting (via The Verge).

Noting that the existing VR hardware is "very, very rough," he remarked, "I think it's pretty easy to imagine that in the future we will have something that we can wear. It will look just like normal glasses - it won't look weird like some of the stuff that exists today."

Zuckerberg may have been alluding to Google Glass, which some have said looks too weird, but certainly the Oculus Rift has a long way to go in terms of its own design evolution. Zuckerberg said that the Rift is still at an "extremely early stage," and he compared all of the VR headset field to the first "terrible" mobile phones.

In the long run, Zuckerberg believes something - possibly VR - will become the new platform that ultimately makes a PC obsolete. "I don't know if it's going to be ten years, or 15, or 20 but there will be another platform after computers that becomes the primary computing platform and we're really excited to build that," he said. "We're working on that with Oculus, who we think are by far the leader in virtual reality at this point, and it's going to be very exciting to see how that develops."

Latest comments (27)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
However mobile phones got better over time. They got smaller, connections got (a little) more reliable, they got more powerful so you can play games and facebook on them.

VR will never get past the fact that you cannot move in the 3D world using your legs. And with that, it's doomed to be a fad.
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VR... is doomed to be a fad
Is one of those type quotes that just totally crack me up, and who is to say you will never be able to use your legs in the VR world? Hell a a simple little sticky patch on each of the legs upper Rectus femoris muscles that responds to user twiching and that muscle could easily allow for legs to come into play even while users comfortably sit.

To say VR is a fad... my god... it's not a fad..its the future.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 16th January 2015 4:54pm

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
You make some pretty baseless claims. It's one thing to say you think it will be a fad, but to act as if you know it will? Yikes ... wish I could tell the future as well. Useful skill.

Kinda reminds me a lot of people in the past who act like things couldn't get any better or certain things can't be done. Most of these people tend to eat their words somewhere down the road.

My thoughts on VR, is that I think it is going to become a pretty significant factor for video games. So much so that at some point I would imagine most games being VR. If we can work past the flaws and find other methods for input, there is absolutely no reason for it to become a fad.

As for not being able to move in a 3D world using your legs? Tell that to scientists lol. They probably would highly disagree as that would also imply you couldn't move a prosthetic robotic limb either, which you can. It's essentially the same concept. In one case you are moving something physical in the real world using the same method you would use to move your legs. VR, you would be doing the same exact thing, except it's not a physical limb and it's represented on a computer.

Mind you most tests like this are done on a computer first to begin with. So it's sort of already been done. Just not to the extent of it being ready for something like VR.

Anyway, please try not to make baseless claims. It's alright to share your thoughts, but I really don't like when people talk as if they absolutely know something for sure even though they actually can't.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 17th January 2015 5:30am

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Show all comments (27)
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
I think it will cycle in and out like 3D tv/cinema. I've been through two cycles of "3D TV will change the world" and including todays, two cycles of "VR will change the world."

Let's let time decide this current one. But the kneejerk vehemence did make me smile thanks, aplogies for offering an opinion which of course becomes a "baseless claim" if you disagree with it...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 18th January 2015 8:26am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
To say VR is a fad... my god... it's not a fad..its the future.
You are aware of how many times that's been said versus how many times is was right, right? :) I was PMSL.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
And all this about controlling bionic legs? Come on guys it's getting embarassing now. I care not a jot what scientiss can do in a lab, less still what they can do on paper. We're talking about your mom using VR as she sits on the couch using facebook here. Someone I know has a missing bottom leg and his replacement is a chunk of plastic with a hinged foot he has to flick out in front of him to get around.

One day we might be able to upload directly into a computer simulation too, but can we keep it real for the next few decades please?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 19th January 2015 8:27am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Why try and per-determine the success of VR on its ability to do a first person on foot game? Why first person? Why on foot? Imagine you could see the world through the eyes of virtually anybody and anything. "Guy on foot" is not the first thing that comes to my mind. Talk about giving god fantasies the authentic god perspective.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game3 years ago
A problem you would have to get round moving your legs would mean the environment needs to match play space, otherwise tou will walk into walls. This works in university labs were the experement is designed around the space. It could work in a laser tag style building with custom built environments and matching software. In a consumer home it limits level design. If you generate spaces based on the room, you can't plan out levels. This works for a neat tech demo, not so much for that VR Skyrim we all are secretly hoping for.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
A brain willing to concede that a pile of pixels is a world, a bunch of conversations is a person and a series of scripts held together by shoestring is an epic adventure, is a brain willing to play a VR version of the same game.

Games have always had a barrier of entry. Not getting hung up on your legs is by far not the worst of them.
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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.3 years ago
With my vested interest I was quite pleased Paul said VR is leg dependent. A few years ago when we showed our first videos even some VR experts were saying "what would you want to walk in VR for?". I firmly believe that locomotion is essential. Not all games need it but enough do that it can't be ignored. Obviously we think we have a viable solution and once people try it they normally agree. The opposite seems to happen with some other solutions when people find they've been conned by the hype.
Just remember when viewing VR product videos that its not what it looks like that matters but what it feels like to you. There is a heck of a lot more to it than meets the eye.
I'm a fan of any genuine and honest attempt so am also looking forward to see how Infinadeck and Virtualizer do. Its an area where no one solution can fit every criteria - which isn't uncommon in other areas like say, car design.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
Someone I know has a missing bottom leg and his replacement is a chunk of plastic with a hinged foot.
You really make me facepalm. I was giving you an example showing you that it CAN work, not that it's currently being used today.
VR will never get past the fact that you cannot move in the 3D world using your legs.
You clearly said NEVER. That is why I gave you the example.
One day we might be able to upload directly into a computer simulation too, but can we keep it real for the next few decades please?
Now you are saying keep it with in the next few decades. So you admit, that never was a wrong thing to say? Either way ... in the enxt few decades I would say, we are very likely to have robotic limbs. Why you would think otherwise kinda boggles my mind. However, I guess people back in the day never expect HD television and cell phones either .. right? Which all came about with in the last few decades .. hmmm go figure.

Think you might wanna shorten that length of time. A few decades is a very long time for technology to progress.

Edit: Also . .the reason I have stated in the past that you make baseless claims is simply because it was most certainly a claim (No where did you say I think, or in my opinion), and it was in fact baseless (You have no actual reasoning to make the claim you made). The argument that 3D didn't do well as if the two are even similar .. which they are not. That is what you call a fallacy. It's an argument that means nothing and has invalid reasoning. There are many technologies in the past that have failed, and there where many that succeeded. It's a bias to compare a technology you don't think will do well to something that also didn't do well, while discounted plenty of technologies that have in fact done well.

By the same token i can say VR will do amazing because television have done amazingly. It's a fallacy still. That argument is no better than yours though.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 19th January 2015 7:16am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
You really make me facepalm. I was giving you an example showing you that it CAN work, not that it's currently being used today.
I understood that. What I was doing was providing a reality check with the way things actually go.

If in ten years time my mom has a VR headset, I promise I'll make a full backtrack on my statement. But I think I'm safe.

VR has a lot of uses in industry already and recent strides will only improve it's usefulness I'm sure. But for gamers and just random people, it's not going to happen until there's a holodeck that scrolls and has lumps in it. And even when your local lasertag place is fully holodecked up, your mom will still be sitting on the couch playing bubble witch in 2D.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 19th January 2015 8:21am

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Karna V Krishnan Producer, Reliance Games3 years ago
If I understood Klaus correctly, games rely on immersion and we've never had people wonder why you couldn't walk when exploring the vast reaches of Skyrim or any other open-world game. VR is an approach to enhance immersion and head tracking does help to a certain extent with proprioception. Given that it's still in a nascent stage, I'm looking forward to how Design innovates with VR's limitations.
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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.3 years ago
Smartphones have turned out to be far better for gaming than first envisaged. It didn't matter that attempts to port FPS games failed and the same will be true of VR. Pac-Man doesn't work on a touchscreen but is incredibly fun in VR - but only if you can walk/'run' around. Its hopeless when you're sat down. This is why I find VR so intriguing. Some experiences definitely work but its not always obvious which.
Coming back to the article. FB are trying to keep interest in VR alive by explaining how it will improve. We've always known that great VR through simple sunglasses will be wonderful. What we want to hear is that they've managed to do it. I'm not pointing the finger at FB but the problem with VR is that the biggest liars are getting all the press attention, even when they fail to deliver, and that is detrimental to the whole movement.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
I understood that. What I was doing was providing a reality check with the way things actually go.
Another claim which you have no reasoning behind. A reality check would require for what you are talking about to be factual in realities case. However, the things we are talking about have yet to even happen. Meaning you can't be giving me a reality check or anyone for that matter since you don't know the future and how things will "actually" go. I mean . .do you even read what you type? It makes no sense.
If in ten years time my mom has a VR headset, I promise I'll make a full backtrack on my statement. But I think I'm safe.
What does your Mom even have to do with this.
But for gamers and just random people, it's not going to happen until there's a holodeck that scrolls and has lumps in it.
That is like saying a television wouldn't happen back in the 1920 - 1930s unless it was in HD. Technology never works that way. I am sorry, but there are going to be plenty of people who are fine with using what is available. It doesn't need to be a holodeck in order to be fun.
And even when your local lasertag place is fully holodecked up, your mom will still be sitting on the couch playing bubble witch in 2D.
Still not sure why you keep mentioning peoples moms. I honestly can't even comprehend your reasoning. Your arguments make no sense.
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media3 years ago
@Brook, the "mom" he has been referring to in this thread is the average user that just wants something fully tested and easy to use, the average Facebook user, as opposed to us techies who love to experiment and will put up with any small issues that we justify, understanding they are just temporary (or worse case scenario, unavoidable). The casual user is much less inclined to adopt a technology that isn't fully ready for them, which would make it not ready for the mass market.

I have to say, I keep reading all your views with interest but I still don't have a position here -I lack the market knowledge to tell whether VR will work with the masses without full freedom of movement. However, I think there are a lot more approaches to VR gaming than FPS or GTA/Skyrims (and more interesting to me). Simulators could (and probably will) make a comeback thanks to VR, and I'm excited for that alone. I've been longing for current-tech proper spaceflight sims/arcades since the death of the X-Wing series, and I know I'm not at all alone.

EDIT: Also, I'm not implying VR will never have freedom of movement. There are indeed good solutions in the works, like Julian mentioned earlier, and I do think this will be solved at some point. Not sure how soon, though.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rafa Ferrer on 19th January 2015 1:46pm

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Rafa
Ok I see, thanks for clarifying what he meant for me. In which case, I still don't think his argument is very good. Even if the average user isn't using it, doesn't make it a fad. Many people seem to forget the average user also never played video games to begin with.

I agree though. It certainly will not be for the average user with in the next ten years. That would be incredibly unlikely. I don't see that as much of a problem though, nor do I understand how it's even an argument to show VR will be a fad. I think the correct word to be used is niche, not fad.

In fact, I think VR is going to remain that way for the most part. For gaming it will likely be the hardcore gamers who use it. The average user is more likely to jump on board with augmented reality. After all, augmented reality is pretty much better in every way when it comes to a communication and social device.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
Another claim which you have no reasoning behind.
Just 46 years obersving the planet. I guess that's not a valid way to form an opnion though. Sorry for offending you.
I honestly can't even comprehend your reasoning
Perhaps stop responding then?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 19th January 2015 3:13pm

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
Just 46 years obersving the planet. I guess that's not a valid way to form an opnion though. Sorry for offending you.
Oh .. my bad. I didn't know you where 46! I am so sorry. Now that I know you are 46 ... I take back everything I said. You are 100% correct.

You should have told me you where 46. I wouldn't have questioned you.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
You're not questioning me, you're just on some fanboy rant.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@paul
Not even a fangirl lol. Nor am I ranting, I am simply trying to understand your logic.

Can you at least explain why you think VR is going to be only a fad? I am not asking for your age and how long you observed the planet sir. I am asking for actual evidence, something that shows this will be the case. Not based on some random thoughts, but based on logical reasoning.

So far the only 2 reasons you have is that 3D glasses didn't work, and because you have observed the planet for 46 years. Neither of which is evidence. XD
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
You are the one supporting the notion that VR is going to revolutionise. The statement in the article is "will become the new platform that ultimately makes a PC obsolete". That's a bold statement that runs contrary to historical evidence, so the onus is on you to support it, not for me to refute it.

Especially given that almost all "revolutionary new ground-breaking awesome sauce" bright new things almost always come to naught, and this one has even been tried once before. I worked on the first go-round of this stuff with a company called Virtuality. So I have age, experience and personal involvement. What's your angle?
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
I wasn't commenting on the article, I was only commenting on what you said in particular. I also do not think it will make pc obsolete. That is an absurd notion and is just as bold of a claim as your own of it just being a fad.
Especially given that almost all "revolutionary new ground-breaking awesome sauce" bright new things almost always come to naught, and this one has even been tried once before.
Again . .that is a fallacy. Just as there have been plenty of things that failed there have also been plenty of successes.

As for it being tried before. . I really hope you are not talking about that poor excuse of a last attempt around virtual boy days lol. If that is what you are talking about .. I got news for you ... it's 2015 .. technology is very different compared to then. You can't base someone on whether or not it will fail if the previous attempt was lacking the tech to even do it.

If that isn't what you are talking about, then you are going to be more specific. Considering your age, I am making a guess that is exactly what you are talking about. Those last attempts where so bad .. that I don't even think you could actually even consider those devices VR. They where more along the lines of gimmicks of VR. They where trying to do something way way before it's time.

Edit: Putting a screen in front of your face isn't VR .. and that is essentially what past devices where. While today, it involves a whole lot more, that really makes it incomparable to those previous devices.

The fact you even compare todays tech to past tech .. is pretty laughable. Microsoft was actually the first to create a tablet. It was released in 2002. It failed miserably. By your logic ... that should mean any more attempts are futile right, didn't work before .. why would it work now? Yet here we are today .. tablets doing great. The reason is because of new technology. I feel like it's crazy I need to explain this to you. You should know better than this.

Honestly. . you sound way to negative in this matter for really no reason at all.

Edit: Oh as for my "angle" .. I simply don't brag or try to use stuff like that to justify my opinion like you are. If anything I rather provide actual evidence and such to the table. I couldn't care less how old you are or if you worked on something in the past. Past is past and no longer pertains here. Your experience in VR means absolutely nothing in todays world.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Brook Davidson on 19th January 2015 8:25pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
I'm flattered that you went from "who the hell are you" to "that's bragging" in a single swoop. As to the rest, I think I'll just leave you to it. We're not going to agree and everyone else stopped reading long ago.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 19th January 2015 9:58pm

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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Paul
It's like you ignore everything in my comment XD. I make points and you ignore them and go for the part where I talk about about bragging? Guess that means you simply have no argument against me.

Well, all well. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Doesn't matter to me.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
We should not take too much of what Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook say at face value. The Rift is a display device. It is not a computing device. Hence it cannot replace the PC, which is a computing device. Sure, the PC outputs to a display device, which may or may not be replaced by the Rift. Completely? No, because computer screens are an addition, not a replacement to our eyesight in daily life. Sure, there will be those working in a dystopian cubicle hell, having an Occulus Rift strapped to their head 10 hours a day. However, that is not going to be the norm. A future in which all people cannot avert their eyes from images forced upon them with no choice what to look at and what not belongs in a Philip K. Dick novel.

If Facebook wants to replace the PC, then congratulations, they now have an alternate display device. Now go and revolutionize the computing end as well, else it will not be much of a revolution. As far as making the PC obsolete. Well, the PC is the idea of having local processing power at a certain location. Nothing more, nothing less. Centralizing all the processing power and only uplinking to it by means of a display device, sounds more like retro radio, than future bright. Then again, we are talking Facebook here, when they look at the world, they see a billion people barfing banalities at each other. No PC power required for that.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
@Klaus
Ya .. not sure why they even said such a thing. Makes no sense.
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