The Oculus Rift VR headset began shipping to consumers earlier this week. Now that the first batch of gamers have had a chance to try out the headset — and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided it was time to discuss the product in detail.
In a live stream posted on the social network, Zuckerberg took viewers on a short tour of the Oculus office, housed in building 18 of Facebook’s massive Menlo Park headquarters.
The 31-year-old entrepreneur has boasted of the capabilities of both live video and VR in the past, describing them as the future of the social media giant. Unfortunately, being on screen doesn’t come naturally to the Facebook chief, and in a live context that can be disastrous. Consequently, the video, which sees Zuckerberg unbox an Oculus alongside the VR company’s co-founder Brendan Iribe and Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, is full of awkward exchanges.
This week, we started shipping Oculus Rift. I’ll be showing you what’s inside the box and taking some of your questions.
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, March 29, 2016
The entire venture gets off to a rocky start when Zuckerberg can’t access the Oculus vision lab, where the company programs the AI that goes into its tech. Giving up after a few tries at the locked door, he proceeds to the open-plan Oculus office, greeting passing workers with friendly hellos. Aside from the initial hitch, there’s no denying that once the broadcast gets underway, it provides a fresh and exciting perspective into the workings of a multimedia corporation. Later in the 22-minute broadcast, Zuckerberg takes questions from his live global audience, exemplifying the communicative power of the medium.
The main attraction, of course, is the Rift itself. For those that have yet to watch an unboxing video of the product, this is a good place to start. With Irbe’s help, Zuckerberg lays out the individual parts housed inside the product’s sleek, all-black container, including the headset, sensor, remote, and Xbox One controller.
Next, Zuckerberg discusses the Oculus Touch controller, unboxing one that has been lurking just outside of the frame. “This hasn’t shipped yet,” he explains of the device. “It’s coming a bit later this year.” Zuckerberg then tries on the Touch, which fits around his hands, and (unlike the Xbox One controller) has built-in sensors, allowing for interactive gameplay. “It’s a natural extension of yourself, it really brings your hands into the game,” explains Iribe.
Like the rest of the video, most of these exchanges between Zuckerberg and Iribe come across as unscripted at best, and uncomfortable at worst. This could be due to the un-staged nature of the livestream, although it’s hard to believe that this was a completely spontaneous event.
At the halfway mark, Zuckerberg begins to respond to the questions that have been pouring in from the live audience. One of the most interesting queries probed Facebook’sown interest in VR, in particular its relation to social networking. In response, Zuckerberg claims that the immersive, “trippy” nature of VR allows you to create social experiences that are unlike those created via traditional online video games.
“We’re building a lot of different teams to work on different social VR experiences,” states the Facebook CEO. “We’re the company…that builds the best social experiences.” The social experiences you’ll have in VR will be as memorable as real-world interactions, they claim. “It feels like a physical memory, like you’re they’re in physical space, and not on a screen” explains Iribe.
Overall, Zuckerberg’s livestream has now been viewed 3.5 million times. To learn more about the Oculus Rift, check out our reviews summary of the VR headset.