Oculus' social media tech looks like an episode of Black Mirror

Over two years ago Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook for $2bn dollars. And now we know why.

During Oculus’ press conference earlier today Facebook founder, CEO and inspiration for The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg, took to the stage to reveal how his company is planning to use Virtual Reality to spruce up social media.

As you can see in the video above, Zuckerberg and company have envisioned a Second Life-like hub in which people can virtually hang out using cartoon avatars.

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Hey hon, there’s something that looks different about you today. New haircut? New shirt? Oh no, I got it! You’ve turned into a cartoon!

The Oculus Avatars, which will launch upon the Oculus Touch’s 6th December release before going to mobile in early 2017, are a cut above usual avatars in the sense that they can mimic facial animations and body language (well, hand movements anyway) through sensors.

The idea is that up to eight people can form a party and from there choose whatever digital landscape they want to hang out in, be it a fictitious illustrated setting or a real place. Examples in the video include the bottom of the ocean floor, the surface of Mars, or the Facebook office.

When hanging out, the avatars are able to manifest certain forms of digital information physically – or as physical as one can get in a simulated setting. To wit: If someone wants to show a video to their friends, they can manifest a screen, alter its size, then place it wherever they like (even in mid-air).

You can also manifest swords by drawing them. Thankfully, dying in VR does not mean that you die in real-life. (Or does it?!)

The strangest proof of concept Zuckerberg demonstrated was receiving a call from someone in the real world while immersed in the virtual world. In this example, Zuckerberg and his friends were hanging out in a virtual representation of his home, when he got a Facebook Messenger video call from his wife. He then pulled out a digital representation of his phone and was speaking to the flesh and blood person on the other end, while she was only seeing his goofy Justin Timberlake-esque avatar.

Indeed, the future is a strange and scary place.

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