Oculus Connect 3 opened on Thursday with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrating the Facebook-owned company’s latest virtual reality tech. Thanks to a combination of the Oculus Rift headset, the coming Touch controller, and other devices, Zuckerberg was able to show the world exactly what Facebook has in mind for the future of its virtual reality platform.
The demo was designed to reinforce points Zuckerberg has made several times in the past: VR is going to be the social networking platform of the future, and that it will only take ten years for people to become accustomed to hanging out in VR.
Realizing that goal will require Facebook and Oculus to constantly refine their VR software and hardware. The demo given at Thursday’s developer event showed off some of those advancements; here are the coolest things Zuckerberg revealed:
Video chatting in VR is easier than ever
Zuckerberg initiated a video call with his wife, Priscilla Chan, on stage at Oculus Connect 3. The call appeared to go off without a hitch: Chan was able to chat with Zuck without any delays on either end. It is notable, though, that we only saw the call from Zuckerberg’s perspective. It’s not clear what Chan saw during the chat, or if from her perspective it was an audio call taken at arm’s length.
Oculus users will be able to visit real-world places
Chan wasn’t the only familiar face Zuckerberg wanted to see at today’s event. He also wanted to see their dog, so he was able to use the Oculus Rift with a camera in his home to visit his canine companion in virtual reality. This also allowed him to essentially lounge around in his home through the Oculus Rift headset, giving him the chance to use VR to visit a place in the physical world in real-time.
New avatars make interacting in VR more human
In addition to seeing Zuckerberg wear an Oculus Rift headset on-stage, the audience was shown a new avatar meant to represent the Facebook co-founder. Besides a few jokes about the avatar looking like a young Justin Timberlake — which is funny given that Timberlake played Sean Parker in The Social Network film about Facebook’s early days — the demo also showed that the avatars are quite expressive. Their hands move along with the Touch controller, their mouths move when people speak, and they’re able to show off different expressions, too.
Everything is combined into one polished experience
The most impressive aspect of the demo was the fact that all of this could happen simultaneously. Zuckerberg was able to take a “selfie” of his avatar while video chatting with Chan and virtually occupying the same place as their dog. Everything worked together in a seamless — albeit carefully scripted — experience that makes Zuck’s claims about everyone hanging out in virtual reality within the next decade seem a little less far-fetched than they did before.