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Face-to-face interaction? F**k that!
At the Oculus Connect conference on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg debuted the social media behemoth’s latest foray into virtual reality. Facebook, which bought Oculus for some $2 billion in 2014, is banking on VR headsets becoming as ubiquitous as its own network. With such an investment, the company clearly believes Oculus is its future. So, they’ve developed VR emoji to capitalize on it.
VR emoji is basically motion capture for your face, but projected onto a VR screen for your friends to see. Rather than having the disembodied hand experience of many interactive VR experiences, your friends will see an avatar version of you waving at them, mouth curled up in a smile. Because neither the “happy” nor the “thumbs up” emoji existed before this moment.
Not a lot of people have or care about social augmented reality—at least not yet. Facebook claims it’s an added means of clarification for interacting with your social circle. If we really need to tell someone we don’t understand something, rather than making a puzzled face on an avatar, we could always just ask.Besides, face-to-face contact isn’t even really what this project is about.
“If Facebook can build a compelling social VR experience at scale, we’ll figure out some way to monetize it. I’m sure advertising will be very interesting in VR,” Head of social VR Michael Booth told TechCrunch.
There you have it folks. Bet those avatar ads are gonna look real bitchin’ in virtual reality.
A former Weekend Editor at the Daily Dot, April Siese's reporting covers everything from technology and politics to web culture and humor. Her work has been published by Bustle, Uproxx, Death and Taxes, Rolling Stone, the Daily Beast, Thrillist, Atlas Obscura, and others. Siese joined Quartz in December 2016.