“Is Facebook working on Augmented Reality?” was the big question for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco.
Zuckerberg confirmed his company is working on augmented reality technology, but it’s “a bit farther out.”
Facebook’s intentions in virtual reality were already clear after buying Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, and an Israeli startup Pebbles Interface, which developed a technology that lets people use hand gestures for $60 million in 2015.
Augmented reality differ from virtual reality in that virtual reality tends to be wholly immersive, essentially helps the user shut out the rest of the world and focus only on the experience. Augmented reality simply adds a touch of flair to the real world. It will let people experience intimate moments, such as an example Zuckerberg gave was giving family members the opportunity to watch a child take its first steps.
Facebook’s Michael Abrash said “It’s very interesting; it’s something we’d all use if it worked well. It’s kind of seamless. Maybe it’ll be contacts or you’ll have something on and it’ll be VR and AR as you choose. But right now the VR tech is past the knee of the curve. For AR, it’s harder. There are a whole host of challenges — how you do the optics and displays and get photos onto the eyes, how you have something that’s socially acceptable and comfortable all day. I think VR is here now, I think AR will be here, but it’s a long road to get there.”
Augmented reality represents a different opportunity for Facebook than virtual reality. With VR as is, the Oculus Rift is designed to be an immersive experience that essentially helps the user shut out the rest of the world and focus only on the experience.