The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset may cost $600, but the company’s management isn’t satisfied with the one-time haul. It is now selling information about how and when customers use their devices to advertisers, and parent company Facebook is sharing that data across its network of services to take full advantage of what it’s learning.
The terms and conditions for the new headset read very much like the traditional agreements we’re used to ignoring, until you get to a section that is unique to the new technology. It requires users to agree to let it collect “information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.” This data may be important for helping the company understand popular uses of Oculus Rift and improve device function, but the terms make it clear that collected data about the way customers use the Rift is not simply for internal purposes.
We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services. We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.
So Oculus Rift has been out for just about a week, and we’re already discovering how virtual reality world is going to be a lot more like everyday reality than we may have expected. Far from becoming a domain apart from the meatspace, VR may become even more ad-centric than traditional gaming devices. And with systems recording more intimate information about your movements, it’s never been clearer how VR may slowly break down another barrier of privacy between companies and consumers.
As for shutting off the stream of data, it may be harder than you would expect. One piece of software designed to tell the home servers when you are using the device was found to transmit as much as 7MB/s with, Oculus Home, was shut down.
The terms also reveal how Facebook is planning to use information from Oculus Rift to monetize your digital personality. Once you agree to terms that allow for your data to be shared with “related companies,” Facebook and WhatsApp will almost certainly be entitled to your information. Also, in case the Facebook family wasn’t enough sharing, “third parties may also collect information about you through the Services.”
It’s hard to say exactly where the money will be in selling Oculus Rift information, but the team is looking for it, and they’re not wasting any time.