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What does a social-media-meets-virtual-reality world look like?

Matt Kapko | April 14, 2014
Facebook's US$2 billion acquisition of Oculus has given virtual reality a major boost. By delivering an altered sense of reality with a social experience Facebook could give users a more compelling reason to come back regularly.

"By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures," he adds.

Science Fiction Becomes Social Reality

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe says the opportunity for a social experience in virtual reality was not something he expected early on, but the potential pairing became more obvious as the platform grew. "Virtual reality definitely sounds like something out of science fiction, but science fiction has a habit of becoming fact," he says.

Technology's long dance with history also has shown that those visions of a more connected future go through many changes on their way to becoming reality. As such, what virtual reality may look like five years from now could be very different than what's possibly today.

"You're going to see faces, you're going to be able to move through space and people are going to lose themselves," says Templeman of Foxtail Marketing.

"I think it's actually a scarier prospect getting into social media... Socializing is what people live for, it's what they strive to have," he says.

The Makings of a Marketer's Dream

"We pay right now for a square inch of space on a person's monitor and we pay really good money for that. In the virtual reality world you're going to engage with consumers in a whole new way," he adds. "If people are going to be living and socializing in a virtual reality world it's a marketer's dream."

Chris Roberts, a senior consultant at the design and development firm Cambridge Consultants, says virtual reality has the potential to bring our interaction on social media closer to real life by fully immersing ourselves in the same environment as the people we're interacting with online. While virtual reality has tried and failed to get off the ground in decades past, he believes the ongoing advancements in technology will help elevate virtual reality to a more widely adopted platform.

"Your conversations would no longer have to be analog, as they are now, but become digital and occur on multiple levels as participants join the conversation and add facts and opinions to it based on the conversations and discussions at hand," says Alan Guinn, managing director of the Guinn Consultancy Group.

"This is a fascinating topic and is only as limited as one wants to make it," he says.

When people first experience a fully immersive virtual reality world they get goosebumps, says Iribe of Oculus. "You see how big this could be, and how social it is, and the impact it could have on other industries."


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